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3 1924 028 161 168 

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The mere fact that Corsica was the birthplace of 
the great Napoleon affords a reason for some curiosity 
as to its history ; but apart from a natural interest 
in the country and nation of a great emperor, the 
story of this beautiful island deserves more attention 
than it has hitherto received. 

Of English w^riters few have had much to tell 
of Corsica, fewer still have attempted any detailed 
history of her sufferings and heroic struggles for 
liberty. The war against Genoa, practically re- 
sulting in the independence of the island under 
the rule of Pascal Paoli, excited some interest in 
England, and led to many pamphlets on ' the brave 
Corsicans,' and notably to Boswell's visit and his 
'Account of Corsica.' 

Various authors have described episodes in Corsican 


history, but to most English readers this page in 
the story of mankind is unknown, and the island 
is regarded mainly as the home of Napoleon and 
Vendetta. In the following pages an attempt has 
been made to tell the story, in the hope that it 
may arouse some interest in the fate of a country 
whose population, although not numerous, may yet 
once more lay claim to nationality and independence. 



Annual Register (1758-1770 and Index 1758-80). 

Benson, ' Sketches of Corsica, or a Journal of a Visit to that Island 
in 1823,' etc. 

BoswELL, ' An Account of Corsica, with the Journal of a Tour to that 
Island, and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli' (London, 1769). 

Cambiagi, ' Istoria del Regno di Corsica.* 

Celesia, 'The Conspiracy of Gianluigi Fieschi, or Genoa in the 

XVI. Century.' Trans, by Wheeler. 
De Thou (Tuanus), 'Histoire Universelle.' Trans., London, 1734. 
DuMOURiEZ, ' La Vie et Memoires du General.' 
Fitzgerald, ' Kings and Queens of an Hour,' 

Gregorovius, ' Wanderings in Corsica.' Trans, by A. Muir. (There is 
another translation by Martineau, but my references are to 
Muir's. The two are arranged somewhat differently. I 
regret that I have not been able to get the original.) 

Malleson, ' Studies from Genoese History.' 

Mas Latrie, 'Relations et Commerce de I'Afrique Septentrionale on 

Magret, etc., au Moyen Age.' 
Merivale, ' History of the Romans under the Empire.' 
Pelham, ' Outlines of Roman History.' 
SiSMONDi, 'Histoire des Fran5ais' (vols. xix. and xx.). 

„ ' Histoire des Republiques Italiennes ' (vols. iii. and iv.). 


The Modzrn Part or an Universal History, vol. xxv. (London, 1782). 

Valery, ' Voyage en Corse, a I'lle d'Elbe et en Sardaigne.' 

ViNCENS, ' Histoire de la Republique de Genes.' 

I have not been able to see the works of Filippini or Peter of 
Corsica, but rely on Gregorovius for such extracts from both 
as are necessary in a work of this kind, Boswell, De Thou, 
Dumouriez, Gregorovius and Vincens are the authors I have 
mainly followed. In the names of individuals I have, as a 
rule, adopted the one under which the particular person can 
most readily be recognised, without adhering to any regular 
system or language. 



I. — Early History, ........ i 

II. — The 'Terra del Commune,' . . ii 

in, — The Pisan Protectorate, . . . . i6 

IV. — Annexation to Genoa, 26 

V. — The Bank of St George, 39 

VI. — Sampjero da Bastelica, ...... 5' 

VII. — Subjection, ....... -74 

VIII.— Revolt, 80 

IX. — The Kingdom of Corsica, . . . . 88 

X. — French Intervention, ...... 102 

XI. — Confusion, 'lo 

XII.— Paoli, 123 

XIII. — Genoa loses Corsica 146 

XIV.— Despair, 160 

The History of Corsica 



The historian of mediasval Rome (Gregorovius) in 
his delightful account of his wanderings in Corsica, 
quotes Seneca's bitter accusation against the inhabi- 
tants of the country in which he spent eight years : 
* Their first law is to revenge themselves, their second 
to live by plunder, their third to lie, and their fourth 
to deny the gods.' Without going so far as Grego- 
rovius, who roundly describes the philosophic states- 
man as a rogue, we may be satisfied with pointing out 
that Seneca's residence in Corsica was quite involun- 
tary, and that, as he probably spent most of his time 
at Aleria, then the chief seaport, it is possible that 
he knew but little of the true qualities of the people, 
and that Divus Caesar, apparently the chief object 
of his own worship, was scarcely a personage for 
whom the Corsicans, with their deep reverence for 
the sanctity of family life, could be expected to feel 
much regard. It must be admitted that they have 
always been revengeful, but they are, as a race, 
religious, hospitable and honest. What form their 



religion took in early times is unknown ; but as 
they were visited before Roman days by Etruscans, 
Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians, they had a 
fairly wide choice of foreign deities, and, if we may 
believe Seneca, rejected them all. 

The first inhabitants are supposed to have come 
from Spain and Liguria, but the Mediterranean naval 
powers took small notice of their rights, and drew 
supplies of honey, wax, timber and slaves from the 
country, and fought amongst themselves for a mono- 
poly of the trade. 

The Greeks are said to have founded Alalia 
(Aleria), on the east coast, but their colony of 
Massilia in Gaul proved more lucrative, and Alalia 
was afterwards an Etruscan colony, until that nation 
succumbed to the superior power of Carthage. 

The Punic government, systematic and ferocious, 
made a determined effort to subjugate the entire 
country, even going so far as to order the destruc- 
tion of the vines and olives, and to prohibit the 
cultivation of grain crops, in order that the natives 
might be reduced to the necessity of resorting to 
Africa for food. It may be doubted if this order 
could be carried out, but it is clear that some 
civilisation and prosperity existed in Corsica at the 
time, and that the inhabitants were not well affected 
towards foreign rule. 

But Carthage appears finally to have pacified the 
islanders, as they assisted the Carthaginian com- 
mander, Hanno, when the Romans under Lucius 
Cornelius Scipio invaded the country and destroyed 
Aleria, but made no permanent conquest. 

Carthage, however, was eventually (b.c. 238) 


forced to cede her rights in the island to Rome, 
and the Corsicans were now left to oppose the 
growing strength of the great republic without 

One Roman general — Claudius — they defeated, 
and compelled him to make a treaty with them, 
but the Senate refused to confirm it, and sent the 
unfortunate Claudius back as a prisoner. The Cor- 
sicans spared his life and set him at liberty, but he 
was put to death at Rome. 

Other and more successful commanders defeated 
the islanders, but it was not until B.C. 227 that 
Rome could establish a regular government, Cor- 
sica • being then placed, with Sardinia, under a 

But the spirit of the nation was not yet quelled, 
and about fifty years later the praetor, Marcus 
Pinarius, was under the necessity of suppressing an 
insurrection which cost Corsica about two thousand 
lives. An annual tribute of one hundred thousand 
pounds of wax was then imposed, and afterwards 
doubled in consequence of another outbreak. It 
was not until B.C. 162 that the Corsicans finally 
submitted to Rome — nearly a century after the first 
invasion — and even then it is doubtful if their sub- 
jection was complete. 

Although a certain number of cities have been 
enumerated as existing or founded under the Romans, 
yet of that great relic of their civilisation, the road, 
there have been found but scanty traces, and these 
only on the east coast between the ancient Mariana 
and Aleria. In this part the country is level and 
road-making not difficult, but the RoRians do not 



appear to have made their roads across the island — 
almost a proof that the inhabitants of the interior 
remained practically unconquered. 

Marius and Sylla were rivals in Corsica as else- 
where, but their rivalry was useful, the former 
having founded the city of Mariana, whilst the 
latter restored Alalia under the name of Aleria. 
Inland lay Cenestum, which may have been on or 
near the site of the modern Corte, and on the west 
coast Urcinium (Ajaccio). Boswell, quoting Dio- 
dorus Siculus, adds a town on the site of Porto 
Vecchio. . 

The island played no great part in Roman history. 
It was occupied by Sextus Pompeius during his 
attempt to resist the Triumvirate, and under the 
emperors was sometimes used as a place of banish- 
ment. It was in this capacity that it was for some 
years the abode of Seneca, the most distinguished of 
its unwilling visitors. 

In the civil war after the death of Nero, Corsica 
sided with Otho, although the governor, being his 
enemy, tried to secure the country for Vitellius. 
The people, however, put him to death and sent 
his head to Otho, but he was too much occupied to 
suitably acknowledge the compliment. 

Christianity doubtless was known in the island 
under the empire, but the subsequent anarchy left 
little trace of it until near the end of the sixth 
century, when, after the defeat of the Vandals by 
Belisarius, and some visits from the Goths and 
Lombards, Corsica became dependent on the Exarchate 
of Ravenna, and the Eastern Empire controlled the 
ports and levied very heavy taxes. It appears true that 



Christianity now made some progress in the island, 
Cap-Corse being called ' Sacrum Promontorium,' and 
regarded as the cradle of Christianity in Corsica. 
Some ancient hiding-places in the forests have been 
considered sometimes as the catacombs of these early 
Christians, sometimes as places of refuge from the 
Saracens. It is probable that they were used for both 

When the Arab conquests stretched from Multan a.d. 700-800. 
to Morocco, and even the power of the Franks was 
endangered by their arms, Corsica could not hope 
to escape the storm. The first Arab or Moorish 
incursion is said to have been in 713, and was most 
likely a mere plundering reconnaissance. But, when 
the Mohammedan power had passed the Pyrenees 
(720), the annexation of Corsica was more seriously 
undertaken, and for centuries to come the island, in 
common with the rest of the Mediterranean countries, 
was a prey to the Moorish incursions which devastated 
the coasts and drove the inhabitants to the mountains. 

From this time until early in the next century we 
have practically no record of what went on in the 
island, except the tradition that there were certain 
elective chiefs called ' Caporali,' and the probability 
that the Arabs, as was their custom, permitted the 
people to retain their own form of government, on 
payment of the tribute imposed on all nations that 
submitted to their rule without adopting their faith. 
As this is expressly stated of that part of France, 
which for a time was conquered,* and as Corsica fell 
soon after its conquest, the tradition that the Caporali 
had some local power seems not improbable. 

* Mas Latrie, p. 6. 



When the Franks had expelled the Arabs from 
Languedoc, and King Pepin had presented the Ex- 
archate of Ravenna to the Pope, the island may be 
said to have been nominally granted to Rome (it 
had formed part of the exarchate), but no attempt 
to conquer it appears to haVe been made until the 
reign of Charlemagne. 

Most maps include it in his empire, and early in 
the ninth century several expeditions were sent to the 
island to fight with the infidels, or to defend it against 
them, a battle at Mariana, where his son Charles was 
victorious, being particularly mentioned. 
8i6. Pope Stephen IV. found in Corsica a good outlet 
for the energies of the Roman nobility, and despatched 
Hugo Colonna, accompanied by Guido Savelli and 
Amondo Nasica, to drive the infidels out of the 
country. They were joined by the Caporali, and their 
efforts met with considerable success. 

In 8i8 Pascal I., successor to Stephen, procured the 
assistance of the Count of Barcelona, who joined 
Colonna with seven hundred men, and helped him to 
defeat Nugalone, an emir or king ruling over part of 
the country, most likely on the east coast. Aleria 
and Mariana were conquered, and Colonna and his 
companions settled down as the feudal lords of the 
824-1000. Hugo dying in 824, his son Bianco was made 
Count of Corsica, and taken under the protection 
of the Pope, which, however, did not prevent his be- 
ing attacked by the Moors of Spain. His brother 
Cinarco was the founder of the Cinarca or Delia 
Rocca family, in after days the most powerful of the 
Corsican nobility. 



For some time the Colonna retained their chiefship, 
Arrigo (Henry) Colonna being called Count of 
Corsica towards the end of the tenth century. He is 
best remembered under the name of ' Bel-Messere,' 
given him on account of his personal beauty and 

About the year looo a quarrel about some land 
resulted in his murder, all his seven children being 
killed at the same time. His w^ife, gathering together 
her friends and retainers, avenged his death by the 
slaughter of the murderers, and burnt dovs^n the castle 
of Tralavedo, in vs^hich they had taken refuge. 

It must be admitted that the story of the Colonna 
family as Counts of Corsica rests on no very sure 
foundation. But it is a fact that Stephen IV. and his 
successors took great interest in the fate of Corsica 
and Sardinia, whilst the declining power of the 
Caliphs, and the establishment of the various inde- 
pendent Mohammedan kingdoms, may reasonably lead 
to the supposition, that an island, always difficult to 
govern and not able to pay much tribute money, was 
neglected by the chiefs of the Mussulman world, who, 
so long as any foothold was retained there, could 
claim it as still under their dominion. 

The geographical position of Corsica, easy of access 
from France, Spain and Italy, combined with the 
isolation of the Mohammedan emirs who had estab- 
lished themselves in the island, made it the happy 
hunting ground of knight errantry, where, to the 
glory of combating the inlidel, was added the pros- 
pect of acquiring lands and lordship in an almost 
unknown country. 

In the year 833 a great officer of the empire, a.d. 833-1000. 



the Marquis Boniface of Tuscany, returning from 
a successful expedition to Africa, touched at Corsica 
on his way home. At the southern extremity of 
the island he built a fortress, which he named 
Bonifacio. Having thus asserted his power, he 
returned, as was his duty, to give an account of 
his adventures to his master. The pious Emperor 
Louis, ' either pleased with the account Boniface 
gave of his raid, or convinced that he meant to 
have Corsica with his leave or without it, granted 
the island to him and his successors as a fief of 
the empire. It thus came nominally under the 
control of the Tuscan marquisate, and so remained 
for over a century. But the Tuscan rulers inter- 
fered very little in local affairs, and the Corsican 
aristocracy had time to take root in the country. 

Many of the families, which in later times 
became famous, derived their origin from Hugo 
Colonna * and his companions ; and unless we allow 
some reality to a personage whose name and ex- 
ploits have been enshrined in the national songs 
and stories, we must conclude that these families 
preferred to claim descent from an ancestor who 
never existed rather than not to have an ancestor 
at all. 

Corsica was claimed as part of the kingdom of 
Italy under Berengarius II., but the Emperor Otto 
II. gave it to his adherent, the Marquis Hugo of 
Tuscany, the race of Boniface being extinct. This 

* The name Colonna does not occur in Roman history until a much 
later period. I have left the name as I found it ; but, whilst thinking 
that a certain Hugo became powerful in Corsica, and the founder of 
several families, I incline to believe that the name ' Colonna ' has been 
attributed to him in error. The name became well known in Corsica in 
later times. 



brings the Tuscan supremacy nearly to the end 
of the tenth century, and although it cannot be 
said that the imperial authority was much regarded, 
still it is evident that the emperors by no means 
admitted that any Mohammedan power had sovereign 
rights in the island. 

During this period the title of 'kingdom' seems 
first to have come into use with reference to Corsica, 
the emirs who were driven out being styled kings 
by the vanity of their conquerors. The island has 
been called a kingdom for several centuries, but 
there seems no reason, except a mistranslation of 
some Arab chieftain's title, for decorating it with 
the honours of royalty ; and it is noticeable that 
its elected rulers (with one exception) have been 
known either as counts or generals. 

In the Middle Ages, however, various princes, 
more or less known to history, were called kings 
from the fact that they claimed the island, in whole 
or in part, as forming a portion of their possessions. 

Kingdom or no kingdom, the signori filled it with 
plunder and rapine ; their castles rose on every avail- 
able spot, and by the year looi, when plague and 
famine impartially destroyed both gentle and simple, 
the country was divided between the nobility and 
the villagers of the mountains in the northern half 
of the island. 

Of Mohammedan rule nothing was left except 
a shadowy claim of the Emir of Denia, in Andalusia, 
who was ere long to lose possession of Sardinia. 

The feudal lords of Corsica, or 'signori,' as they 
were generally called, must have been, to a great 
extent, originally foreigners, the real Corsicans living 



in the more inaccessible parts of the mountains. But 
in time they became fully nationalised and adopted 
every custom that could render them either formid- 
able or popular. They cannot have been luxurious, 
they had to be brave, and must have been very 
fair specimens of their order, in an age when every 
free man w^ith arms in his hands considered all 
Europe as a field open to his enterprise ; and when, 
on the ruins of an older civilisation, a partly Christian 
and wholly disorderly aristocracy formed one domin- 
ant nation within and beyond the limits of the 




Near the shore of the Gulf of Sagona, not far from 
the mouth of the river Liamone, stood the castle of 
Cinarca. This stronghold belonged to a family, some- 
times called Cinarca from their ancestor Cinarco, the 
son of Hugo Colonna, but in after history better 
known as Delia Rocca, under which name many of 
this family fought for their country and for their own 
rights, and some were found worthy leaders of the 
people in the cause of liberty. 

But a lord of Cinarca in the beginning of the 
eleventh century was the indirect cause of the great 
village confederation which formed the Terra del 

The old village communities in the mountains of 
the centre and north of the island, having their own 
lands and being determined to keep them, repelled all 
intruders and gradually formed a kind of league, which 
out of anarchy evolved a republic, with the rough 
draft of a constitution. It must be remembered that 
foreign dominion never appears to have been firmly 
established in the interior, and that even of the Roman 



road but little trace can be found. The impassable 
nature of the country, combined with the high spirit 
of its inhabitants, had protected the hill folk from 
anything more than a nominal submission to the suc- 
cessive foreign conquerors. But now, against a local 
nobility, foreign in origin and ideas, but gradually 
gaining strength and influence, the sturdy villagers 
found that they must combine or forego their 

Their first parliament, if it may be so called, was 
assembled at Morosaglia, a village in the mountains 
about twelve miles north-east of Corte, and about 
the same distance from the coast. Their business 
was to discuss the means of resisting the lord of 
Cinarca, who had contrived to place himself at 
the head of the nobility, and seemed to aim at 
the lordship of the whole island. Sambucuccio di 
Alan do was chosen as leader, or ' general of 
the people,' and he defeated Cinarca, and com- 
pelled him to retire to his own estates in the year 

This victory over the aristocracy confirmed the 
freedom of the country within a kind of triangle, 
whose angles are to be found at Brando in Cap-Corse, 
at Aleria in the east, and Calvi on the north-west 
coast. Within these limits the people were free, and 
this tract of country was known henceforth as the 
Terra del Commune. 

The Corsicans have always been in the habit of 
collecting together in villages, which are known as 
' paese ' or countries. The villages or paese of each 
valley formed collectively a ' pieve ' or parish, and 
this ecclesiastical division became the basis of the 



administration in the Terra del Commune, under the 
presidency of Sambucuccio. 

In each village a podesta or presiding magistrate, 
and other officials known as Padri del Commune, were 
chosen ; and they, in their turn, elected a caporale, 
who was the chief officer of the pieve. The podestas 
elected the Dodici or Council of Twelve, the highest 
legislative body in the confederacy. 

The natural formation of the country- — ranges of 
high mountains, with but few passes, intersected by 
long valleys in which the villages are situated — ren- 
dered the pieves practically so many small states. 
In these the office of caporale tended to become 
hereditary in certain families, which thereby formed 
a new order of nobility known as the 'caporali.' 
This, however, was not always the case, and even 
where it was, many of the caporali remained at- 
tached to the constitution although violating it in 
their own persons. Freedom, qualified by their 
own usurped rights over their neighbours, became 
their ideal, and for some time their influence was 
on the side of the patriots. 

The title of caporale has been attributed to 
elected chiefs of the people anterior to the arrival of 
Hugo Colonna, and it is said that they joined him and 
enabled him to rout and expel the Saracens. 

It is probable therefore that Sambucuccio, in organ- 
ising the administration, made use of titles already 
endeared to the people by old association, merely 
reducing to order and regularity their ancient system 
of local government. 

After the death of Sambucuccio the signori took the 
opportunity of resuming what they doubtless held to 



be their right — to rule the country and make war on 
their own account. Issuing from their castles, they 
indulged themselves in plunder and civil war, until the 
communal leaders called in a member of the powerful 
Tuscan family of Malaspina to put an end to the 
general disorder. 

About the year i020 Malaspina landed with a body 
of troops and defeated the turbulent nobility. Some 
of them submitted to the inconvenience of leading 
quiet lives, and were allowed to remain in the ' Terra ' ; 
the rest were driven out and settled in the south- 
western portion of the island. The Malaspina con- 
tinued their protectorate for half a century, keeping 
some garrisons in the country and drawing from it a 
moderate revenue. The communal form of govern- 
ment was maintained under their protection, and the 
caporali continued to gain more and more power, 
whilst in the south and west the nobility took a firm 
grip on the land, dividing amongst themselves almost 
the entire country south of the river Liamone. 

During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the 
rivalry between Genoa and Pisa afforded opportunities to 
the nobles for increasing their power, and up to the 
end of the fifteenth century they retained it. But the 
inhabitants of the Terra del Commune, although 
allowing the caporali to usurp far more authority 
than had been originally intended, yet remained 
throughout the real Corsican nation ; so much so, 
that we shall find their deputies arranging terms 
with Genoa, as the representatives of Corsica, early in 
the fourteenth century, and in the fifteenth over- 
awing the nobles and treating directly with the 
Court of Milan. 


Whatever power, Christian or Mohammedan, laid 
claim to the sovereignty of Corsica during the 
eleventh century, part of the island was certainly 
free and Christian, and the government there in- 
stituted was to be the ideal of future legislators. 




The Pope had derived from the empire some rights 
over Corsica, and at the end of the ninth century a 
Corsican, Formosus (891-6), was Pope. We have 
seen how at the beginning of the same century the 
Pope gave Hugo Colonna leave to conquer the island. 
In the eleventh century, and later, this Papal assumption 
of overlordship caused much trouble and warfare, the 
Popes granting the sovereignty of the country first 
to one power and then to another. Had they been 
able or willing to govern it themselves, it is probable 
that the Corsicans, who are distinguished for attach- 
ment to their religion, would have been faithful 
subjects to the head of the Church as their civil ruler, 
and the island might have been found a sure refuge in 
times of trouble. 
A.D. 1070-1120. About the year 1070 the Moors returned to 
Corsica ; but the Pisans prevented them from con- 
quering it, and then endeavoured to retain it for their 
own benefit. The Genoese, however, alleged certain 
rights conceded to them by Benedict VIII. ( 1012-X024), 
and disputed the claims of Pisa. Pope Gregory VII. 
(1073-1085) sent Landulph, bishop of Pisa, to arrange 
for the formal submission of the six Corsican bishops 



to the See of Rome. He succeeded in his task, and 
was rewarded, by the elevation of his bishopric into 
an archbishopric, with feudal superiority over the 
island of Corsica, not merely ecclesiastical supremacy 
over the bishops of Aleria, Ajaccio, Accia, Mariana, 
Nebbio and Sagona. This grant of Corsica to Pisa 
was confirmed by Urban II. in 1098, to the great 
disgust of the Genoese, who had formerly assisted the 
Tuscan Republic to overthrow the Mohammedan 
power in Sardinia, only to find themselves excluded 
from that country by the jealousy of their former 

They now found themselves ousted from Corsica, 
which, from its situation, was an even more desirable 
possession than Sardinia for the Genoese ; so they 
made the question of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction an 
excuse for objecting to their commercial and political 
rivals being granted the monopoly of power and trade 
in the island. 

The Pisans had indeed acquired influence in Corsica 
by slow degrees, beginning merely as merchants. As 
early as the year 1 000 they had built a church at 
Quenza,* probably the oldest specimen of their archi- 
tecture in the country. By the end of the eleventh 
century they were clearly paramount there, having 
trade, religion apd government in their hands. 

Gelasius II. confirmed the grant of ecclesiastical 
supremacy in 1 1 18, and in 11 19 the two republics 
came to open war, nominally about the bishoprics. 
In 1 123 Pope Calixtus 11. summoned both parties to a.d. 1120-1200. 
appear before him at Rome, and decided in future to 
consecrate the Corsican bishops himself, a decision to 

* Valery, Bk. I., ch. Ixviii. 


which the Genoese deputies agreed, but the archbishop 
of Pisa refused to submit to this curtailment of his 
powers and the war was continued. 

At last, in 1133, a compromise was effected, Genoa 
becoming an archbishopric, with supremacy over the 
sees of Mariana, Accia and Nebbio, whilst Pisa re- 
tained Aleria, Ajaccio and Sagona. 

Meantime, the death of the Countess Matilda, in 
1 114, had transmitted the claim of her family over 
Corsica to the Pope, and although the Tuscan or 
Lombard family to which she belonged could never 
have claimed Corsica as an allodial possession, still 
her repeated grants of all her territory to the Church 
gave one more claim on the island to the Papal Court. 

The emperors, of course, did not acquiesce in the 
alienation of feudal territory, and still claimed the 
island as part of the empire. 

In 1 158 the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa chided 
the Republics of Genoa and Pisa for having, by their 
intrigues, impeded his oiBcers in his islands of Sardinia 
and Corsica.* He afterwards confirmed the Genoese 
in all their possessions, however obtained ; but this does 
not appear to have greatly added to their power. 
The three bishoprics of Aleria, Ajaccio and Sagona, 
which Pisa retained under the compromise of 1133, 
gave that republic a very strong position in the island. 
The government, as in Sardinia, was administered 
by officers called judges, t This title (Giudice) was 
much used in both islands in the Middle Ages, and in 
Sardinia the Pisans forgot their family names in the 
use of those of their jurisdictions. In Corsica the 

* Vincens, Bk. II., ch. i, 

t Cambiagi, Bk. I. ; Sismondi, Re'pub. Ital., Vol. III., ch. xvi. 


Giudice was renewed every second year, and the Pisan 
officials are said to have been benefactors to the people 
over whom they ruled. A foreign traveller, Gerard 
of Lorraine, Viscount of Strasburg, who visited the 
country about 1 1 75, mentions its fertility and praises 
the good education, prosperity, hospitality and courage 
of the inhabitants. 

During the twelfth century the Pisans were the 
rulers of Corsica, with Biguglia as their capital. The 
Terra del Commune existed as a state within a state, 
and the assemblies of the people were held in the plain 
of Morosaglia. 

But Genoa was determined not to leave her rival 
unmolested. About the same period that the division 
of the bishoprics was agreed to an embassy was sent 
to Rome to obtain from the Pope the remission of a 
tribute of a pound of gold paid by the republic for the 
island of Corsica. There is no particular evidence that 
this payment had ever been customary, but from the 
remission of the tribute Genoese writers have inferred 
'that the lordship which Genoa claimed over the 
island was not imaginary, and could be claimed in 
conscience and without sin.' * 

With or without sin, the Genoese did their best to 
ensure that their claims should not be imaginary. 
In 1 1 80 Fulco di Castello, with a small fleet, sailed 
to Corsica and destroyed a Pisan castle on the coast, t 
This castle was apparently Bonifacio, which, towards 
the end of the century, was rebuilt by the Pisans and 
afforded their cruisers a safe retreat, whence they could 
prey upon Genoese commerce. The Genoese govern- 

* Vincens, Bk. I., ch. vi. 

f Umv. Hist. Moj., Vol. xxv., ch. Ixxiii., I. 



ment could get but little satisfaction from Pisa, the 
Pisans declaring that the ships from Bonifacio attacked 
their commerce just as readily as that of Genoa, and 
putting off the Genoese envoys by a promise to assist, 
at some future time, in the suppression of the pirates 
of Bonifacio. But Genoa would not wait, and took 
Bonifacio. Instead of destroying it, the Genoese 
decided to hold it. They strengthened the fortifi- 
cations, and conciliated the inhabitants by granting 
them valuable privileges. This took place about the 
year 1195, and from that time the power of Genoa 
began to increase in the island. Genoese families 
settled in Bonifacio ; and this place, once won, was 
never again lost. Pope Honorius III. found it advisable 
to confirm Genoa in this possession in 12 17, thereby 
confirming himself as suzerain of the island. 
A.D.1200-84. Meanwhile the Emperor Otto IV. had, in 1209, 
granted Corsica to Pisa,* so that both the rival republics 
could cite high authority for their claims on the 
sovereignty of the island. But during the thirteenth 
century the power of Pisa was gradually declining. 
In addition to Bonifacio, and the three bishoprics 
granted them in 1133, the Genoese had many ad- 
herents amongst the Corsican nobility, whose excesses 
were to some extent controlled by Pisa. The Cinarca 
had returned to Corsica,t and they and many others 
were by no means particular as to which of the rival 
republics they acknowledged, so long as their own 
possessions were untouched. 

The Cinarca indeed divided into two branches about 

* Gregorovius, History of Rome in the Middle Ages (trans. Hamilton), 
Bk. IX., ch, ii., note. 
t Cambiagi, Bk. II. 



1220, one of which held to Pisa and took the name of 
Delia Rocca ;* but even they seemed to have been quite 
willing to recognise Genoa when it suited them to do so. 

About the time that the Genoese settled at Bonifacio, 
a 'signer,' with the curious name of Ors' Alamanno, 
made himself conspicuous in that neighbourhood by his 
tyranny. He claimed certain rights connected with 
the marriages of his vassals, rights not unknown in 
other countries, and, in addition, he always exacted 
the gift of a horse, an ox, or some such valuable 

A certain Antonio Piobetta had the misfortune to 
be subject to his authority ; and he, proposing to 
marry, did not object to the gift exacted for the 
privilege, but strongly objected to the other ' rights ' 
claimed by the signor. 

By the offer of a fine horse he contrived to draw 
his avaricious lord away from his retainers, under 
pretence of showing the animal's paces, then, deftly 
throwing a lasso over his head, he put spurs to his 
horse, and Ors' Alamanno was quickly strangled, t 
It is said that Piobetta and his wife were afterwards 
treated with great respect by their neighbours, which 
is highly probable. The incident deserves mention, 
simply to show the length to which the signori could 
go in troublous times, and the promptitude with 
which the Corsicans could put a stop to such out- 
rages. That particular abuse of feudalism known as 
the droit du seigneur^ does not appear to have been 
again attempted in the island. It certainly was 
opposed to the ideas of the Corsicans, who are rightly 

* Cambiagi, Vol. I., p. 120. 

f Valery, Bk. I., ch. Ixxxi. 



sensitive to any attack on their personal honour, and 
still more so in the case of their wives or sisters. 

During the thirteenth century it may be said that 
Pisa and Genoa were continually at war, and although 
the former republic is usually credited with the pos- 
session of Corsica until her downfall, after the battle 
of Meloria* (1284), yet her power in the island was 
diminishing, whilst that of Genoa was increasing. 
The possession of Bonifacio, added to that of the 
three bishoprics, gave the Genoese the chance of 
acquiring more places in the island, while the constant 
state of war between the two republics gave some 
colour of justice to these additional acquisitions. 
Ajaccio was taken about (or before) 1270, which led 
to the Genoese extending their influence over Sagona. 
Here, however, they came in contact with Sinucello 
della Rocca, the lord of Cinarca, who was about the 
most powerful of the Corsican nobility. This man is 
known in history as Giudice della Rocca, the title 
of judge having been held in great estimation in his 
day. He has been described by his friends as a man 
of high character, a just judge, a prudent statesman, 
a brilliant soldier and a true patriot. On the other 
hand, he has been described as an insolent, greedy 
and unscrupulous brigand. Giovanninello, a wealthy 
lord of Nebbio, was at first Giudice's friend, but a 
ridiculous quarrel converted him into a bitter enemy. 
The signor of Nebbio had been offended at an 
accident which happened during a meeting between 
himself and Giudice. Two of their followers had 
some trifling dispute, in the course of which one of 
them picked up a little dog and threw it at the other, 

* Hallam, Middle Ages, ch. iii., Part II., quoting Villani. 


missed his man and hit Giovanninello. He, either 
furious at the accident, or perhaps seeking some excuse 
for a quarrel, refused all apology, and openly broke 
with his former friend. The little dog caused a great 
vendetta. This took place about the year 1275, and 
the lords of Nebbio and Cinarca were soon at war 
with each other, the former being, after a while, 
compelled to make his escape to Genoa. Soon he 
returned and fortified the spot which afterwards 
became the city of Calvi. Genoa knew well how 
to profit by these disputes, and Calvi speedily became 
a Genoese colony. 

Giudice della Rocca now consented to govern his 
district under the protection of Genoa, but without 
paying much attention to the laws of his nominal 
suzerain. His influence extended as far as Bonifacio, 
where he greatly annoyed the inhabitants, who ap- 
pealed to Genoa for help. In 1282 an expedition 
was undertaken to suppress this troublesome vassal, 
and Giudice, having been defeated, promptly trans- 
ferred his homage to Pisa. The Pisans took him 
under their protection, and after some pretended 
negotiations with Genoa, reinstated him in his domains, 
and allowed him to govern the island as their vassal 
and officer. The Giudice of Corsica thus became the 
Pisan general in the island, and, being a Corsican, he 
was able to unite under his authority many of those 
who for a long time had been in doubt which of the 
two republics to support. 

In 1284 the destruction of the Pisan navy at the A.D.1284-1300. 
terrible battle of Meloria left Giudice della Rocca 
exposed to the full power of Genoa. Pisa, no longer 
fighting for supremacy, but struggling for freedom, 



even for existence, soon passed out of the story of 
Corsica; not, however, to be forgotten by a nation 
whose happiest period was that in which the oiEcers 
of the Tuscan Republic were loved and honoured, as 
judges of whose justice no doubt was entertained. 

The Genoese speedily made themselves masters of 
the east coast, their position at Bonifacio and Mariana 
rendering this an easy task. Luchetto Doria, with a 
body of troops, occupied a large portion of the island, 
and imposed on the Corsicans an oath of allegiance to 
Genoa. But Doria had to reckon with Giudice, who 
had now become practically an independent ruler, 
although he still governed in the name of Pisa. 
A.D.1282-1312. For nearly thirty years he held his own, and the 
Genoese failed in every attempt to subdue him. His 
government was just, if severe, and many a tale is 
told of his even justice, which could forget the sacred 
claims of kindred when they conflicted with those of 
duty. But in old age he became blind, and was be- 
trayed by his illegitimate son, Salnese, to the Genoese, 
who took him to Genoa, where he died in the year 
13 1 2. Unfortunately he had no successor. Most of 
his sons were, like the traitor Salnese, illegitimate, and 
they killed his only legal heir, and divided his estates 
between them. 

With the capture of Giudice della Rocca the last 
remnant of Pisan authority disappeared. The fright- 
ful state of anarchy and misery to which the nation 
was reduced after his death has caused his time to be 
looked back to as a golden age. Even allowing for 
some exaggeration, he must be allowed the title of a 
true patriot. His sudden change of sides from Genoa 
to Pisa may seem questionable, but was not unusual 



in other countries under the feudal system, whilst the 
sincerity of his submission to Genoa at any time is 
doubtful. Whatever may have been his reason for 
adhering to Pisa, he never afterwards wavered. But 
for the battle of Meloria his influence might have 
prolonged a protectorate which was useful both to 
Pisa and Corsica ; and the side he supported was 
certainly the one most likely to benefit his country. 




A.D. 1300-20. The Republic of Genoa acquired, in 1299, a definite 
sovereignty in Corsica, the Pisan government formally 
surrendering all claim on the island. The signori 
gradually submitted, and the Terra del Commune 
sent a deputation to arrange terms writh the Senate. 
It was agreed that taxation should be limited to 
' twenty soldi for each hearth.' * It seems that the 
deputies of the Terra del Commune made terms for 
the whole nation, and that the Senate admitted their 
right to do so, settling with them the financial con- 
ditions under which the Genoese rule should be 
accepted by the Corsicans. This implies the right 
of the people to claim independence in case of any 
breach of the agreement. 

Although Pisa no longer opposed her, Genoa was 
not, during the first half of the fourteenth century, 
in a position to fully assert her power in Corsica. 
Calvi and Bonifacio were still her principal strong- 
holds, and these places it was important to firmly 
attach to the cause of the republic. 

It will be remembered that the latter place fell into 
the hands of the Genoese at the end of the twelfth 
century. It had remained in their power ever since, 

* Greg., Bk. I., ch. viii. 


and by the grant of privileges, and the settlement 
of Genoese families, had become a colony firmly 
devoted to the mother city. In the year 1321 theA.o. 1321. 
rights and privileges of the citizens of Bonifacio were 
solemnly recognised and embodied in a written con- 
tract, which was signed and sworn to by Brancaleone 
Doria on behalf of the Senate and people of Genoa, 
on the nth of February. By this instrument the 
Bonifacians obtained free trade in all Genoese ports, 
and self-government in their own city, under the pre- 
sidency of a Commissioner representing the Republic, 
who, before assuming office, was obliged to swear not 
to violate the rights of the community. 

The constitution thus freely granted was faithfully 
observed, and for upwards of four centuries the re- 
public had no more faithful adherents than the 

Although Pisa had retired from the conflict, Genoa 1295-1300. 
was not without a powerful rival in her claim on 
Corsica. In the year 1295 the Pope, to further the 
interests of Charles II. of Naples, induced King 
James of Aragon to abandon Sicily, and afterwards 
gave him the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. 

King James was not at first able to do much in About 1297. 
Corsica ; but Aragon was frequently in a state of 
war with Genoa at this period, so that Corsica 
was never safe. The republic assisted the Sicilians, 
and was, for this oiFence, laid under an interdict by 
Pope Boniface VIII., and so remained until the 
settlement of the Sicilian dispute, by the recognition 1301. 
of Frederick (brother to the King of Aragon) as 
King of Sicily in 130 1. 

In 1324 the Aragonese made good his claim on 


A.D. 1326. Sardinia, from which country he expelled the Pisans, 
and his neighbourhood to Corsica gave cause of alarm 
to Genoa. He did not, indeed, attack the island at 
this time, but his claim, founded on the Papal grant, 
gave some kind of legal support to those Corsicans 
who refused to own the Genoese as their rulers. It 
was not until after the lapse of some years that his 
successor, Alfonso IV., struck a blow in Corsica, 
during a war provoked by Genoa in 1330 ; but it 
became the custom for a man who disliked Genoa 
to pose as a supporter of Aragon. The war, how- 
ever, was mostly carried on in Sardinia. 

1328. In 1328 the bishop of Aleria assisted at the corona- 
tion of the Emperor Louis V. at Rome, in opposition 
to the commands of Pope John XXII. (at Avignon), 
who was the foe of the emperor.* Genoa was at this 
time in the power of King Robert of Naples, on 
whom the ' signoria ' had been conferred, so that the 
republic sided with the Pope, whilst Pisa, on the 
other hand, had submitted (with some reluctance) 
to the emperor. It would thus appear that the 
Bishop of Aleria, whose see was one of those 
formerly dependent on the Archbishop of Pisa, was 
acting in alliance with that state and in opposition 
to Genoa. As a Corsican bishop, his assistance at 
the coronation implies an admission of the imperial 
sovereignty over the island, and an absolute defiance 
of the Genoese, who evidently could not control 

1348. Boccanegro (or Boccaneria) was the first Genoese 
governor of Corsica. He arrived in 1348, but only 
remained a year in the country. Tridano della 

* See Oscar Browning, Guelphs and Ghibellims, ch. vii. 


Torre, after an interval, succeeded him and ruled for 
seven years, until he was eventually killed. These 
two men both made some attempt at decent govern- 
ment ; but the country was left pretty much to itself 
during the greater part of this century, Genoa being 
content with the nominal sovereignty and actual 
possession of the principal seaports. No doubt 
governors were sent over, but their power was very 
limited until Tridano somewhat consolidated it. 

During this period of anarchy the nobility regained 
much of their power, the caporali also becoming more 
and more the lords of their valleys. 

Some as supporters of Genoa, and some as feudal 
barons, they ruled the greater part of the country, 
not much to its advantage. In fact, there was no 
real central authority after the fall of Giudice della 

Amongst his descendants, two brothers of the a-d- i35°- 
family of Attalla came into prominence about the 
year 1350, by their acceptance of the tenets held 
by the sect known as ' Giovannali.' This sect took 
rise first at Carbini, a small village in the Levie 
district (near Sartene in the valley of the Fiumiccioli), 
formerly prosperous, but ruined by the fall of the 

They were remarkable, both in clothing and 
manners. They preached community of goods, 
obedience to a certain rule or misrule, and absolute 
association in one great family, having their women 
and children in common. 

They were joined by many of the signori (a 
curious proof of the fearful anarchy and misery 
which must have prevailed), and, under the leader- 



ship of Paul and Henry d'Attalla, acquired a good 
deal of influence. 

But in a country where the sanctity of the family 
tie is so strongly upheld by the aiFections and pride 
of the people, such doctrines could not prevail long. 
The sect was, of course, excommunicated by the 
Pope, Innocent VI., as soon as he became aware 
of its existence ; and the ' crusaders ' sent by him 
were actively assisted by the majority of the people 
amongst whom the Giovannali had endeavoured to 
spread their doctrines. The Giovannali were defeated 
at Alesani, and suppressed by the simple process of 
putting to death as many as could be found. 

Besides this sect of communists, another strange 
source of mischief deserves mention. 

In the pieve of Rogna there lived two men, not 
remarkable either for wealth or position, named 
Cagionaccio and Ristiagnaccio.* These men quar- 
relled. Their quarrel was taken up by their friends 
and spread throughout the pieve. Gradually the 
scope of this dispute widened, until two parties, 
called Cagionacci and Ristiagnacci, divided the 
whole nation ; and frequent contests took place 
between them,, although they were probably ignorant 
of the cause of their mutual enmity. 

The Genoese power was slowly extending, in 
reality as well as in name, while the Corsicans 
exhausted themselves in killing each other. 

In the year 1380, Lionello Lomellino, then 
governor of Corsica, finding Biguglia (which had 
hitherto been the seat of government) not quite so 
safe as he could have wished, constructed near the 

* Cambiagi, Vol. I., p. 298. 


sea a fortress from which grew the city of Bastia. 
This governor seems to have spent some years in 
the island, for we find him still there in 1392, 
when Arrigo della Rocca landed as the represen- 
tative of the King of Aragon. The house of 
Cinarca had been the source of more than one 
noble family. Amongst them the Della Rocca had 
already produced the famous Giudice. Guglielmo 
della Rocca had been killed fighting against Genoa, 
and his son Arrigo continued the struggle. Re- 
tiring to Spain, he set to work to persuade the 
King of Aragon to assert his rather doubtful rights 
over Corsica. King John was willing to authorise 
any attempt to undermine the power of Genoa, 
and Arrigo was allowed to style himself his 

He landed in 1392, and took the castle of Cinarca. a.d. i 392-1400. 
Lomellino and his colleague Tortorino assembled the 
deputies of the people at Corte, to consider how to 
defeat him. But while they deliberated Arrigo 
marched across the island and stormed Biguglia, 
still the official capital. There he assembled the 
people and caused himself to be proclaimed Count 
of Corsica. The governors fled, and only Calvi 
and Bonifacio owned the sway of the republic. 

Arrigo was now ruler of Corsica, and his govern- 
ment, although severe, was popular. A rising in 
Cap-Corse, where several families were of Genoese 
origin, was suppressed. The republic had many 
other matters to attend to and seemed on the point 
of abandoning the island altogether. 

But the nobles of Genoa were then active and 
ambitious. Deprived of the highest posts in the 



republic, they still served their country ; and men 
were found ready to venture something for the 
retention of an island which had already cost much, 
both in blood and money. An association was 
formed, called ' Mahona,' which comprised Magnera, 
Tortorino, Fiscone, Taruffo and Lomellino, all five 
being nominally joint-governors of Corsica. 
A.D. 1394. They raised a thousand men and invaded the 
country, counting on the aid of such Corsicans as 
were discontented with the count's government. 
Some help they got, but could not eiFect much, and 
presently came to terms. But Arrigo, on the pre- 
text that they broke their treaty, was soon again in 
arms and drove the ' Mahona ' out of the country. 
Another effort on their part, reinforced by the 
republic, turned the tables, and Arrigo had to retire 
to Aragon. The king gave him two ships and 
some troops, and he returned after a very short 
absence, captured the Genoese commander, and was 
once more master of the whole island, with the 
exception of Calvi and Bonifacio. 
1396- The kings of Aragon had experienced the deter- 
mined hostility of Genoa ; throughout the century 
the republic had persistently opposed them in Sar- 
dinia. King Martin, finding Corsica in possession 
of his lieutenant, Arrigo della Rocca, when he visited 
Sardinia in 1396, sent garrisons for the fortresses held 
by his adherents. During the rest of his reign, how- 
ever, the affairs of his own kingdom and of Sicily and 
Sardinia kept him fully occupied, so that the Aragonese 
suzerainty over Corsica was merely nominal, if that, 

Arrigo della Rocca governed, but did not proclaim 
himself independent, although his government practi- 




cally was so. His rule lasted until the close of the 1400 (or 1401). 
century, when he died suddenly at Vizzavona, not 
without suspicion of poison. 

The city of Calvi narrowly escaped capture about 
this time, but was preserved to the republic by the 
efforts of a young man of the Baglioni family. He, 
finding that certain influential citizens meditated sur- 
rendering the place to the Aragonese party, raised 
the populace and put the would-be traitors to death. 
From the cry of ' Liberty ! ' raised by him and his 
companions, came the honourable surname of ' Liberta,' 
since borne by his family. But we may doubt if the 
Corsican nation as a whole understood the word in 
the sense that it bore to the citizens of Calvi or of 

In the beginning of the fifteenth century the affairs 1396-1413- 
of Genoa were in a bad state. The fourth dogeship of 
Antoniotto Adorno had come to an end in 1396, when 
the office of doge was abolished and Charles VI. of 
France acknowledged as suzerain. He appointed a 
governor, and in 1400 the old office of Captain of the 
People was restored, only to be again abolished to 
make way for another French governor. Not until 
141 3 was the office of doge restored, and during this 
period of distress the Genoese were unable to accom- 
plish much in Corsica. 

After the death of Arrigo della Rocca the Corsicans 1401-16. 
had some hopes from France ; but the French Govern- 
ment appointed Lionello Lomellino count of the island. 
This man, a former governor and a member of tKe 
* Mahona,' being now backed by the power of France, 
quickly made himself unpopular by the harshness of 
his rule. 



Arrigo della Rocca had left a natural son and 
daughter, known as Francesco and Violanta della 
Rocca, but his nephew, Vincentello d'Istria, was 
regarded by the nation as his legitimate successor. 
He had been from his youth in the service of 
Aragon, and devoted himself to the congenial task 
of preying upon the Genoese commerce, whereby 
he became well known as a successful corsair. (The 
accusation of piracy was often brought against the 
Corsicans in the Middle Ages, but it is doubtful if 
they were any worse than the Genoese and others in 
this respect.) 

Francesco della Rocca joined the Genoese party, 
and was appointed governor of the Terra del Com- 
mune under Count Lomellino. But he was opposed 
by the greater part of the community, and had little 
power, whilst he shared the count's unpopularity. 
The latter, carrying out his former project of obtain- 
ing a new residence safer than Biguglia, enlarged 
Bastia and made it the capital. Unfortunately, the 
Grenoese administration in Corsica had already become 
corrupt. The governors were systematic oppressors 
of the people, and did not hesitate at any crime to 
rid themselves of real or suspected enemies. More- 
over, their policy with regard to Genoese families 
settled in the island was not calculated to make 
them good subjects. Jealousy and contempt drove 
many into the national party, in which we find, 
from time to time, such names as Gentili and even 
Grimaldi, one of the oldest noble families of Genoa. 

Boucicaut, the French governor of Genoa, en- 
deavoured to control the excesses of the Genoese 
officers in Corsica, and limited their term of office 


to five years, but he was unable to eiFect much good 
for the oppressed nation. 

Vincentello d'Istria determined to take advantage 
of the prevailing discontent, and arrived in the Gulf 
of Sagona. Thence, followring his uncle's example, 
he marched to Cinarca, and afterwards to Biguglia, 
where he assembled the people and was proclaimed 
Count of Corsica. Francesco della Rocca was killed ; 
his sister Violanta made a courageous effort to carry 
on the struggle, but failed. Vincentello took Bastia 
(about 1410) and maintained his authority for some 
years. Fregoso, brother to the Doge of Genoa and 
governor designate of Corsica, besieged him at 
Cinarca, but was defeated, in 1416. Lomellino 
simply disappeared. 

A revolt of some of the nobility who joined the a.d. 1416-20. 
Genoese party drove Vincentello from power for a 
short time, but he was soon back again with rein- 
forcements from Aragon, and reconquered the entire 
island, except Calvi and Bonifacio. 

Alphonso v.. King of Aragon, thought the state of 1420. 
affairs now warranted the assertion of his claim to the 
kingdom of Corsica, and accordingly he invaded the 
island in 1420 with a fleet and ten thousand men. 
Vincentello had already conquered all but Calvi and 
Bonifacio. The first-named city was soon taken 
by surprise, but the latter still remained to be 
taken. The king and Vincentello directed the 
operations, and the siege began in August and 
lasted until January 1421, the place being invested 
both by land and sea. A bombardment from a hill 
to the north of the town, as well as from the ships, 
destroyed a great part of the fortifications. An 



assault was then made, and for three days the 
garrison had to repel the successive attacks of the 
Spaniards, fighting under the eye of their king. 
But the assault was repulsed. Then the king en- 
deavoured to bring the inhabitants to terms, at the 
same time pressing the siege and reducing them to 
great distress, their provisions being, as time went 
on, almost entirely consumed. While the siege was 
in progress the king received a message from the 
Queen of Naples, who offered to adopt him as her 
son and successor. But he was loth to quit Corsica 
without reducing Bonifacio. 

A small vessel escaped from the harbour and took 
news of the extremity of Bonifacio to the Senate at 
Genoa. That city was suffering from the plague, and 
the Genoese seemed unable to help their colony. 
But Fregoso, the doge, was determined to do his 
utmost to save the faithful city. It had been 
arranged that the place should surrender, unless 
relieved by a certain date in December, and 
Cataccioli, the Bonifacian messenger, returned with 
an assurance that relief should come as quickly as 
possible. The doge pawned his plate and jewels 
to raise money, and equipped a small fleet, which 
was loaded with provisions. His brother, John 
Fregoso, was entrusted with the command, and 
started, with fifteen hundred men, to relieve a 
place besieged by ten thousand. Before he could 
arrive the time agreed on for the surrender had 
come ; but the women of Bonifacio, showing 
themselves on the walls attired in armour, played 
the part of a Genoese force said to have arrived 
during the night, and the city still held out. 



Women, monks, priests and children jomed in this 
heroic defence, and cheerfully endured every hard- 
ship. When Fregoso arrived w^ith his small fleet, 
he found the entrance to the harbour blocked by 
galleys chained together ; but he advanced, broke the 
chain, forced his wray through the besieging fleet and 
landed his supplies. Then he threwr the Spanish 
fleet into confusion with a fireship, and made his 
wray back to Genoa. Bonifacio was saved. The 
king reluctantly raised the siege in January 1421. A.D.1421-34. 
Leaving Vincentello d'Istria as his viceroy, Alphonso 
departed to seek an Italian kingdom, and made no 
further attempt to retain Corsica. 

In the Terra del Commune the caporali had 
gradually increased their power, and were now re- 
garded rather as an order of the nobility than as 
tribunes of the people. They and some of the 
great landed proprietors, after the failure of the 
King of Aragon to take Bonifacio, leant more and 
more to the Genoese faction. Calvi was recovered 
by the republic, and the power of Vincentello de- 
clined. Gradually the Genoese and the party on 
their side increased their influence, until finally 
Vincentello was forced to retire to Cinarca, the 
ancient seat of his mother's family. Biguglia was 
surrendered to Simon da Mare, one of the Genoese 
proprietors in the north, owing to the anger of the 
inhabitants. Vincentello had abducted a girl from 
the town, and her friends avenged the insult by 
joining his enemies. Finally he tried to escape by 
sea, but was captured, taken to Genoa, and there 
beheaded in 1434. 

The King of Aragon was not in a position to 



help his viceroy. He was at the time at war 
with Milan and Genoa (the republic being then 
under the protection of the Duke of Milan), and 
was defeated and taken prisoner by their combined 
forces. The alliance which he then formed with 
the duke resulted in the Genoese breaking with the 
latter and declaring war against both, a circumstance 
little to the advantage of a man whom they hated 
both as a rebel and as an officer of their bitterest 

Bastia and Corte were both strengthened as 
fortresses by Vincentello d'Istria. The former was 
destined to be the seat of the Genoese government 
in the country, but the latter, although often 
changing hands, remained the true capital of Cor- 
sica until the end. 

For upwards of three centuries to come the 
Genoese were never again so nearly driven out of 
the island. In fact, when Vincentello was con- 
quered, Corsica was annexed and became a Genoese 




After the death of Vincentello d'Istria several of the a.d. 1434-50. 
leading Corsican families competed with each other 
for supremacy. The chiefs of the Mare, Istria, Leca 
and Rocca families all wanted the title of Count of 
Corsica, and they threw the whole community into 

At Genoa, in 1436, Thomas Fregoso, the doge 
under whose auspices the defence of Bonifacio took 
place, regained his power, but was constantly har- 
assed by his rivals the Adorni. From that date until 
1488 every doge of Genoa was either a Fregoso or 
an Adorno. These two families were, in fact, in a 
constant state of war, and although they could on 
occasion combine (as when in 1461 they expelled the 
French), their rivalry was productive of great hurt 
to the republic. In Corsica the Adorno and Fregoso 
factions divided the nation into hostile camps. In 
1443 an attempt was made to place the country 
under the protection of the Pope, but without success. 
In the Terra del Commune Mariano da Gaggio was 
elected general of the people, and his first enterprise 
was against the caporali, many of whose strongholds 
he destroyed, and declared their office abolished. But 
they joined the Adorno faction and were not easily 



suppressed. Again application was made to Rome, 
where the new Pope, Nicholas V., was a native of 
Genoa and an adherent of the Fregosi, who had again 
obtained the upper hand in 1447. The Pope confided 
the government of the island to Ludovico Campo 
Fregoso, who overcame the resistance of Mariano da 
Gaggio, and assumed office about 1449. 

Things went from bad to worse, until the people, 
despairing of good government, finally resolved to 
seek the protection of the Bank of St George. 

Early in the fifteenth century this Bank, which seems 
already to have existed for about fifty years, was granted 
a considerable extension of its powers. The directors 
and their assistants were practically above the law, 
and answerable only to the creditors of the republic, 
for whom they acted. The national debt of Genoa 
had grown so difficult to manage that the establish- 
ment of this corporation, although dangerous, was 
yet convenient both to the government and its 
creditors. From early times the expeditions of the 
Genoese had often been conducted on what may be 
called joint-stock principles, and the bank appears 
to have grown out of an amalgamation of debts and 
credits on the territories and finances of the republic. 

We have seen how the Corsicans took the resolu- 
tion of putting themselves under the protection of 
the bank. Perhaps this resolution was not altogether 
voluntary, as the bank, about 1448, had been granted 
A.D. 1450-64. the administration of Corsica and the Levantine 
colonies. The Pope's selection of a Fregoso to 
govern the island no doubt caused some delay. 
The Senate ceded the island to the bank, and the 
Fregosi claims were bought out ; with the result 



that by 1453 the Bank of St George was officially 
the recognised authority in Corsica. But in the 
south many of the signori held out for Aragon, and 
Genoa was forced to make many concessions to King 
Alphonso, who, however, was too much occupied 
elsewhere to give much attention to Corsican affairs. 

The opponents of the bank were treated as rebels, 
and many prisoners put to death. This policy still 
further embittered the nobility of the south, who 
joined the Fregosi, making common cause with 
Tommasino Campo Fregoso. This man invaded 
Corsica about 146 1, defeated the troops of the 
Bank of St George, acquired possession of a large 
part of the island, and was proclaimed Count of 

But the Adorni had been out of power (except a.o. 1464-78. 
for three or four months in 1461) for over fifteen 
years, whilst some of the Fregosi were jealous of 
the power of the Archbishop of Genoa, although 
he was a member of their family. Consequently, 
in 146 1, the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, 
contrived to gain enough supporters to cause the 
' signoria ' of the republic to be conferred on him- 
self, and Genoa was without a doge until 1478. 
During this period the Adorni were in power, but 
the Duke of Milan controlled the policy of the 
republic. The bank resigned Corsica to him, he 
claiming that the island would be governed better by 
his officers, and also better protected against foreign 
enemies, than if it remained under the bank's 
control. (Bank stock had lately fallen heavily, and 
the directors were perhaps glad to be relieved of so 
costly a property as Corsica.) 


He sent Antonio Cotta as governor, who convened 
an assembly at Biguglia, wfhere the deputies swore 
allegiance to Milan. But a discussion between the 
retainers of some of the southern lords and the 
mountaineers of the north led to bloodshed. Cotta 
himself suppressed the riot and punished the rioters, 
thereby offending the signori, who held that he 
had infringed their rights by punishing their followers, 
an opinion which their equals in any European 
country would probably have upheld. They said 
little, but went home and prepared to avenge the 
A.D. 1466. The inhabitants of the Terra del Commune were 
well aware that an outbreak was imminent, so they 
held an assembly on their own account to consider 
what to do. 

Sambucuccio di Alando, a descendant of the founder 
of the Terra, was chosen as leader, with instructions 
to preserve peace if possible. Backed by the whole 
strength of the Terra del Commune he was able 
to overawe the noble families, not too sure of their 
own union for long. 

Peace was preserved ; and a second assembly 
decided to send Sambucuccio, with some other 
delegates, to Milan. This delegation obtained 
Cotta's recall ; but his successor was unable to curb 
the turbulent nobility, and soon the whole country 
was in a state of war and confusion. Tommasino 
Fregoso took the opportunity to reclaim his authority 
as count, but was taken prisoner and sent to Milan. 
1478. In the course of time Francesco Sforza and his 
successor passed away, and Milan, under a regency, 
was no longer to be feared. The Adorni, in 1478, 



decided that it was time their power should be re- 
cognised by the restoration of Prospero Adorno to 
the ducal chair. Accordingly, they renounced all 
allegiance to Milan, defeated the regent's army and 
renewed the independent power of the doges. 

After a few months the Fregoso faction again 
prevailed, and their power in Genoa paved the way 
for their return to Corsica. 

For some reason which can hardly be understood, a.d. 1480-83. 
the Court of Milan released Tommasino Fregoso and 
recognised his claim to Corsica. He returned in 
1480, and resumed his former title, with more than 
his former power. His son Giano, by marrying 
a lady of the Leca family, brought Giampolo da 
Leca into the Genoese, or, at all events, the Fregoso 

But the Leca family were by no means unanimous 
in their support of Fregoso, for Renuccio da Leca 
acceded to the popular voice and became the leader 
of the national party. 

The Fregoso government was unpopular, and 1483-87. 
the nation sought the protection of the Prince of 
Piombino, who was already in possession of Elba. 
Prince Appian was willing to add to his dominions, 
and sent over his brother Gherardo to take possession 
of Corsica, with a small army and a large retinue, 
the latter comprising, amongst other items, a number 
of musicians and jugglers. The poor islanders were 
astonished at this luxurious invasion, but they took 
Gherardo to Lago Benedetto and proclaimed him 
Count of Corsica (1483). The Fregosi retired in 
alarm, and again sold their rights to the Bank of St 
George, which had already paid for them in 1453. 



The bank took active measures and defeated 
Renuccio da Leca, on which Gherardo promptly 
returned to Piombino. But Tommasino Fregoso, 
although he had sold his claims, did not intend to 
finally resign them. His son stayed in the island, 
whilst he went to Genoa, and both encouraged 
and assisted the opponents of the bank. 

Giampolo and Renuccio da Leca united against 
the common foe, and Giampolo was elected, or recog- 
nised by the party as the Corsican leader. Affairs 
went so ill for the bank that the directors obtained 
the appointment of a committee, with supreme power 
over both the republic and the bank of St George, 
in 1487. This committee imprisoned Tommasino 
at Lerici. The doge and his son, enraged at the 
insult to their family, soon contrived his escape, and 
he fled to Corsica ; whilst a member of the committee 
was murdered by the servants of Fregosino, the doge's 
son. (The doge was Paul Fregoso, a cardinal and 
archbishop of Genoa. ) 
-1501. This outrage was punished by the defeat of the 
Fregosi and Leca in Corsica. In 1488 Renuccio da 
Leca was captured by treachery and sent to Genoa, 
where he died in prison ; whilst Giampolo and the 
Fregosi were defeated and expelled from the country. 
In the same year the Adorni overthrew the Fregosi 
at Genoa and accepted the mediation of the Milanese. 
The cardinal-doge retired on a pension, and for the 
next ten years the republic was subject to the Duke 
of Milan, and the Adorni in power as his lieutenants. 
The Bank of St George, relieved from anxiety as to the 
Fregosi claim, resumed power, and bank stock rose in 
value. Giampolo, after another attempt at resistance, 



took up his abode in Sardinia and waited. The bank 
exploited Corsica for ten years and earned the hatred 
of the people. Then Giampolo came back with a 
handful of followers. Misgovernment had so worked 
for him that he was joined by the Corsicans of all 
ranks, and soon found himself at the head of an army of 
over seven thousand men, with a small force of cavalry. 
Amongst his supporters was Renuccio della Rocca, 
at the head of the powerful clan of Cinarca. _-^ 

Since 1490 Genoa had had nothing to fear from 
Aragon, where Ferdinand the Catholic, was too busy 
forming the kingdom of Spain to trouble himself with 
Corsica, and had made peace with the republic ; 
but at the end of the fifteenth century France 
succeeded Milan as the over-lord of Genoa, and 
Giampolo had thus well timed his invasion. But 
what force could not effect was done by negotiation. 
The bank managed to detach Renuccio della Rocca 
from the national party, and thus drew ofF a great 
part of Leca's army. Then Negro, the Genoese 
commander, defeated him and took his son prisoner. 
Giampolo, discouraged, made terms. He again retired 
to Sardinia and took no further part in politics. His 
son Orlando escaped from Genoa to Rome and tried 
to persuade him to make another attempt, but 
Giampolo declined. Orlando was killed in Corsica 
not long after. Giampolo died at Rome some years 

Renuccio della Rocca, the chief of the Cinarca, in 
spite of his desertion of Giampolo da Leca, suspected 
that the policy of the Bank of St George was likely 
to injure him. He was a man of great influence and 
possessed several castles, in which he hoped to be 



able to defy the power of the bank. At one of 
them, near Baricini, he kept a spring of water under 
lock and key to prevent its being poisoned, a singular 
illustration of the manners of the time. 
A.D. 1502-H. In 1502 he openly declared against the bank, but 
the governor, Nicolo Doria, obliged him to make 
peace, one of the conditions being that he and his 
family should thenceforward reside at Genoa. Doria 
laid waste the districts whose inhabitants had been in 
favour of the defeated chief, the valley of the Niolo 
in particular being completely devastated. Renuccio 
quitted Genoa in 1504, leaving his family there, 
and went to Sardinia with the view of reconciling 
himself to Giampolo da Leca, who refused to see 
him. His wife and children were imprisoned at 
Genoa when his flight was discovered, but this did 
not deter him from fresh efforts. He landed in 
Corsica with a few followers, and again declared 
against the bank. He held the tower of SoUacaro 
against four thousand Genoese troops and repulsed 
their attacks. But Doria was too quick for him and 
defeated him before he could raise any great force. 
His eldest son was beheaded and he was put to flight. 
His adherents, and all who could be accused of being 
so, were punished by the burning of their villages. 

Three years later he returned again, with but a 
handful of followers. Again there was a Doria at the 
head of affairs, who suppressed the revolt and com- 
pelled Renuccio once more to agree to reside at 
Genoa ; not ungenerous treatment, all things con- 
sidered. On arrival there, he was taken to the French 
governor's castle, the city being unsafe on account of 
the rage of its inhabitants. He now disappears for 



another three years, probably having escaped during 
the insurrection which took place at Genoa in 1507, 
when the French were temporarily expelled. 

Finally, he returned to Corsica to make a last effort 
against Genoa. His eldest son had been put to death, 
another had been killed by accident some years before ; 
his castles and lands had been confiscated, and his 
state was altogether desperate. He failed to rally the 
people to the cause of liberty, and was compelled to 
hide himself. A Genoese officer rode past his hiding- 
place. The sight so exasperated him that he followed 
the Genoese, attacked him by night, killed him and 
took his horse. Then he showed himself in public, 
and was pursued by the troops of the bank. Unable 
to collect forces to oppose them, he took to the hills 
for refuge. The peasants, tortured to disclose his 
hiding-places, could not protect him. In May 151 1 
he was found dead, slain by an unknown hand. 

So perished Renuccio della Rocca, once the most 
powerful man in Corsica, ten years after his desertion 
of Giampolo da Leca. He was the last of the old 
feudal signori who resisted Genoa. The Cinarca, 
Istria, Leca and other ancient families of Corsica, 
lawless and fierce as they were, did for many a long 
year, take the lead in resistance to Genoese tyranny ; 
but now their power was broken, and with their fall 
their country, for a time, fell also. During the next 
forty years the Bank of St George ruled unchecked ; 
indeed, since the expulsion of Giampolo the bank 
had practically been possessed of absolute power. 

The administration of the Bank of St George was, A.D.1511-53. 
on paper, liberal. The governor, residing at Bastia 
with his 'vicario' (who took his place when he was 



absent), was the supreme authority. His lieutenants 
were dispersed amongst the districts of the island, and 
from their decisions appeals lay to the governor. 
From him appeal lay to the Court of Syndicate, com- 
posed of six members, three representing the nobility 
and three the people. But they might be either 
Corsicans or Genoese, so that in their representative 
capacity they did not count for much. None of the 
chief officials held office for more than three years. 
The limitation of the period of office, first proposed by 
Bouccicaut, had been carried into effect by the Bank, 
whose directors, naturally, did not wish their subordin- 
ates to imitate the Fregosi. 

The Terra del Commune, with all its institutions. 
Fathers of the Community, podestas, and so forth, still 
existed under the rule of the bank ; and the consulta, 
or general meeting, was called together at Biguglia 
whenever the governor desired the assent of the people 
to his measures. 

The Dodici were still elected by the people of 
Corsica, not appointed by their rulers, and their 
consent was required to all new laws. Retaining 
their old name, their number was increased — the 
twelve being for the 'Di Qua,' or northern portion of 
the island, and six more for the country beyond the 
mountains, i.e., the south, which never had been part 
of the Terra del Commune. But this apparently 
liberal constitution was merely nominal, and the 
people found themselves subject to a power which 
only governed them to live upon the fruits of their 
industry ; regarding the island as a convenient place 
for the support of the ruling classes, entirely Genoese, 
and for the improvement of their fortunes. We must 



not forget that the principal duty of the government 
officers was to collect taxes ; their employers — the 
directors of the bank — desiring to make as large 
profits as possible out of a territory granted mainly 
to indemnify the creditors of the republic. 

Still, until the sixteenth century, their rule was not 
oppressive to the people in general. 

It took time to humble the old nobility and crush 
their power. While this was being done, the good 
will of the nation was desirable to prevent any 
fresh insurrections. 

In 1492 Ajaccio was fortified, or strengthened, and 
the city greatly improved ; much being then, and 
later, rebuilt, and its position somewhat removed from 
the old site. Many Genoese merchants settled there, 
and it came to be considered as the most important 
place after Bastia. The strongholds of Genoa were 
always on the coast. Holding the principal harbours, 
they felt safe, in spite of any disorder existing in the 

The towers (resembling the Martello towers of our 
own coast) which dot the shores of Corsica from end 
to end, are also due either to the bank or to the 
Republic of Genoa. They were used as watch-towers 
to guard against the attacks of pirates, and their 
inmates lit beacon fires on their summits to alarm the 
inhabitants of the district when the ships of the 
corsairs were sighted. Then, either by flight, or, if 
possible, by organised resistance, the barbarous enemy 
■could be evaded or repulsed. But from the fact that 
the fertile plain on the east coast was more and more 
abandoned as time went on, and that only in the 
nineteenth century has it begun to be repeopled, we 



may doubt the efficiency of this protection. On the 
coast only the fortified towns were safe, and even 
they not always. 
A.D. 1528. The terrors of the plague augmented the sufferings 
of the Corsicans ; and the nation, crushed and despair- 
ing, bore the yoke of the bank for many years, and 
that yoke became gradually heavier. But at last 
Genoa incurred the enmity of France, in whose army 
many Corsicans were serving, amongst whom was 
Sampiero da Bastelica, ere long to prove the most 
terrible foe to Genoa that Corsica had yet produced. 

During this period of oppression and suffering 
many Corsicans had left their homes to seek careers 
abroad, but their hearts turned ever to their own 
country, and when at length the hour of vengeance 
came they devoted themselves, without hesitation, to 
the overthrow of the power of the Bank of St George. 




Sampiero was born at Bastelica in 1497. His early A.D.1497-1553. 
years were passed at home, and he must have heard 
of, and sympathised with, the resistance offered by 
Renuccio della Rocca to the tyranny of Genoa. 
Sampiero was a notable sportsman in his youth, and 
when he grew up he, as did many another Corsican 
in those days, quitted his country and took service 
with the Medicis. 

Various stories are told of his courage and strength.* 
At Rome he fought with and killed a wild bull, 
apparently because a companion and rival had defied 
him to this strange contest. As a member of the 
Medicean 'Black Band,' he gained a reputation for 
courage, determination and presence of mind. When 
Catherine de Medicis married the Dauphin of France, 
he obtained the chance of entering the French service, 
becoming, about 1533, the colonel of a Corsican regi- 
ment, which the king had lately raised. He dis- 
tinguished himself in the French army, particularly 
at the siege of Perpignan in 1542, where he saved 
the life of the dauphin, afterwards King Henry II. 

* Celesia, Cons. Gian, Fieschi^ ch. xv. 



At this siege also, he, with fifty Italians, defeated 
and put to flight five hundred Spanish knights who 
had challenged the besiegers. So, at least, says 
Celesia, adding that the vanquished knights were 
thrown into such disorder that the victors killed and 
captured many, without any loss to themselves. A 
fit exploit for a friend of Bayard. 

The peace signed at Crepy, in 1544, gave Sampiero 
some leisure ; and he came home to Corsica soon after, 
and married Vannina, the only daughter and sole 
heiress of Francesco di Ornano, one of the richest 
noblemen in the island. On his marriage he assumed 
the name of Ornano, by which his descendants were 
afterwards known in France. 

About this time another famous Corsican name 
occurs in the history of the European wars. In 
1525 Giocante, Casablanca, in command of a body 
of Corsicans, defended Savona for the King of France, 
Andrew Doria, at that time in the French interest, 
aiding him by sea. Genoa was then on the side of 
the empire and Doria an exile. 

In 1528 Andrew Doria, who had left the French 
service and joined the emperor, contrived to over- 
throw, not only the French power in Genoa — 
established with his help in 1527 — but also the 
power of the non-noble class, for nearly two 
centuries supreme in the republic to the detriment 
of the nobility. The families of Adorno and 
Fregoso, for generations leaders in the state, were 
expelled, their very names being suppressed. Later 
(1547), the famous conspiracy of Gianluigi Fieschi 
caused many of his family to be banished from Genoa. 
Corsica had frequently been the battle ground of 



Genoese exiles, sure there of being able to stir up 
trouble against the party in power ; and Sampiero, 
whilst serving in Italy and France, had become the 
friend of both the Fregosi and Fieschi ; he was 
therefore suspected, both by the Senate and by the 
Genoese authorities in Corsica. Before long he 
alForded them some pretext for his arrest. The 
actual reason is doubtful, but some correspondence 
with either the Fieschi or Fregosi, or with both, 
seems most probable. His position as a French officer, 
and the heir (through his wife) to large estates in the 
island, also made him obnoxious to the government. 
He was arrested and imprisoned. Francesco di 
Ornano went to Genoa and applied to the French 
ambassador, who soon got his son-in-law released. 
But Sampiero had now a personal incentive to take 
up his country's cause against Genoa on the first 
opportunity, and a chance soon came. The more 
or less constant war between France and the em- 
pire broke out again. Genoa held by the emperor, 
but France had certain claims on the republic, 
which she was ready to maintain at any convenient 

So far back as 1396 a treaty had been made 
between Charles VI. of France and the Senate,* of 
which one article provided that Genoa and her 
dependencies could not be alienated from the French 
crown for any reason whatever. 

After the battle of Pavia the French had, of 
course, lost all control over Italy ; but this was 
not held (by France) to be any bar to her claims 
on Genoa. How far the treaty of 1396 was an 

* De Thou, Vol. II., p. 375 (Bk. XII.). 


attack on the rights of the empire — at that time 
powerless in Italy — is a question which might be 
interesting, if the fate of countries had ever been 
decided by law instead of by force. 

Granting the French king's right to Genoa, his 
right to Corsica naturally follows ; and he was 
strongly disposed to assert this right in 1553 because, 
Genoa having sided with the emperor, he was shut 
out of Italy by her fleet ; but with Corsica in his 
hands he could easily pour troops into Tuscany 
by sea. 
A.D. 1553. Sampiero was with the French troops, under 
Marshal Paul de Thermes, at the siege of Siena, 
when the latter received orders to prepare for the 
conquest of Corsica. He at once seconded an 
enterprise so much to his liking by every means 
in his power. 

His friend Altobello de' Gentili went to Corsica to 
prepare the people for the invasion, and Sampiero 
was soon able to undertake that his countrymen 
would rise against the Genoese on the arrival of 
the French. 

France being in alliance with Turkey against the 
empire, the services of the Turkish fleet were 
available for the the attack on Corsica. 

Dragut, the Ottoman admiral, arrived in the 
Gulf of Lepanto, in June 1553, ^^^^ sixty galleys, 
and was there joined by the Baron de la Garde 
(Polin) with thirty-six French ships. 

After an attack on the island of Elba the com- 
bined fleets sailed to Corsica, having first taken 
on board the forces under Thermes, with whom 
were Jourdain des Ursins and Giovanni da Torino, 



besides Sampiero and other Corsicans and the exiled 
Aurelio Fregoso, The Duke de Somma brought 
some Italian troops, and De Valeron six French 
companies. The French forces comprised in all 
about two thousand five hundred men, besides 
the Turkish fleet and what troops Sampiero could 
levy in the island, which was reached on 25th 

Andrew Doria had, before this, gone to Naples 
with his fleet, sending a detachment to Leghorn. 
He had warned the Genoese authorities of the 
French invasion, and instructed them to garrison 
and provision the maritime cities, especially Calvi 
and Bonifacio. 

Bastia, the first place attacked, fell in a day. 
Thermes then proceeded to San Fiorenzo, which 
was not fortified, and was at once occupied by 
Valeron with the French troops. San Fiorenzo 
was then placed in a state of defence, and a French 
and Corsican garrison put into it ; the neighbour- 
ing village of San Pietro was also strengthened, to 
give a strong post in the hills near. 

Sampiero (who had been joined by his country- 
men in great numbers) took Corte, and afterwards 
Ajaccio, being scarcely resisted at either place. 
In the latter town there were many Genoese 
merchants ; some of them appear to have suffered 
in fortune when the town was taken, but, on the 
whole, the war was at this time carried on with 

Bonifacio, the stronghold of the Genoese, was 
besieged by Dragut, and here the fighting was 
serious. The fortress was strong and its defenders 



determined ; moreover, the fear of falling into the 
hands of the Turks led the inhabitants to second 
the efforts of the garrison to the utmost. The 
besiegers lost six hundred men without making any 
impression on the fortress ; and Dragut, infuriated 
at his losses, prepared to use his whole power in 
the reduction of the place. A French officer. 
Captain Nas, had been sent with the Turkish 
forces by Thermes. This man contrived to warn 
the defenders of their risk, and to arrange a capitula- 
tion, by which they surrendered to the King of 
France, on condition that their lives and property 
should be spared. But when the garrison marched 
out one of the Turks observed an arquebuse of 
unusually fine workmanship in the hands of one 
of the Genoese soldiers. This he tried to take. ' 
The soldier, enraged at such insulting treatment, 
shot him, and some of the Turk's comrades who > 
ran to help him were also killed. This led to a 
massacre of the greater part of the garrison. Captain 
Nas, who felt his honour concerned in the matter, 
made every effort to stop it, and nearly lost his own 
life in the tumult. Dragut saved him with diffi- 
culty ; and then, disgusted at losing the plunder 
of Bonifacio, sailed to the East with what prisoners 
he could secure, leaving his French allies to their 
own devices.* 

Calvi was well fortified, and its citadel almost 
inaccessible. La Garde, with his fleet, attacked it 
by sea, and Sampiero, with his Corsicans, by land. 
The suburbs were soon carried, and the place was 
blockaded during September and October. 

* De Thou, Vol. II., p. 379. 


But when Calvi was in danger Genoa was active. 
A reward of five thousand crowns was offered for 
Sampiero's head, and he and his friends, Peter 
Ornano and Gentili, were proclaimed rebels. 
Andrew Doria prepared to invade the island in 
person, and twenty-six galleys were sent under 
Agostino Spinola and one of the Palavicini to relieve 

Palavicino arrived first, reinforced the garrison of 
Calvi and gained time for the arrival of further help 
from Genoa. Spinola following him with the rest of 
his fleet, the prudent Thermes raised the siege and 
took up a strong position in the mountains. 

Andrew Doria, now in his eighty-sixth year, did not 
spare himself in the service of his country. His influ- 
ence with the emperor was of great service, Charles V. 
promising to pay half the expense of the expedition. 
Doria landed near San Fiorenzo in November, and 
promptly laid siege to that place. He brought with him 
an army of about eight thousand foot and five hundred 
horse, more than half being supplied by the Governor of 
Milan and the Duke of Florence. The French fleet, 
driven from Calvi by Spinola, was not in a position to 
attack Doria, but hovered near ready to seize any 
advantage, while Sampiero held the roads and cut ofF 
his supplies. Thus the Genoese, whilst besieging San 
Fiorenzo, were in a manner besieged themselves, and 
suffered greatly from sickness and hunger. The city 
was defended by Jourdain des Ursins, with a garrison 
partly composed of French troops and partly of 
Corsicans. Giovanni da Torino, with one hundred 
and fifty men, brought supplies to the defenders 

* Vincens, Bk. X., ch. ii. 



before the place was fully invested, and they were 
A.D. 1554. thereby enabled to hold out for three months. At 
the end of that time want of food obliged Des 
Ursins to capitulate. Doria offered terms to the 
French, but regarded the Corsicans as rebels and 
excepted them from the capitulation. But they, 
hearing this, broke out, under the leadership of 
Bernardino, forced the Genoese lines and escaped. 
Des Ursins then accepted the terms offered and 

During this siege further reinforcements of Spanish 
and Genoese troops arrived, and Bastia, which was 
held by only fifty Frenchmen, was retaken, but an 
attack on Furiani failed. 

Doria, after the fall of San Fiorenzo, was recalled 
for the service of the emperor. Thermes, who had 
not accomplished much during the winter, thereupon 
resumed his activity, and, aided by Sampiero, regained 
much of what had been lost. Spinola, who was now 
in command of the Genoese troops, held most of the 
northern part of the island, and in June the important 
fortress of Corte was treacherously given xzp to him. 
In August Thermes laid siege to it, and a sortie 
made in October was defeated by Sampiero, who was 
wounded. All this time a war of reprisals was going 
on and the country devastated. 

About four thousand Corsicans were serving under 
Sampiero, and when he was wounded his place was 
taken by Jacopo Santo da Mare (or Santafiore), a 
wealthy Corsican nobleman. 

It was evident that Corte could not hold out much 
longer, and help was sent from the garrisons of Bastia 
and Calvi. Different accounts are given of these 



operations, but it seems that the two relief detach- 
ments, having joined, were finally defeated in the 
mountains between the River Golo and San Pietro- 

Sampiero, scarcely cured of his wound, had rejoined 
the army in spite of it ; the Corsicans had to deplore 
the loss of Jacopo Santo, who was killed ; but Corte 
fell, and before long the power of Genoa was confined 
to a few fortified towns on the coast, all the interior 
being held by the French and Sampiero. 

Paul de Thermes soon afterwards left to take com- 
mand of the army in Piedmont. Sampiero hoped to 
succeed him in Corsica, but certain complaints made 
against him by Thermes caused him to be ordered to 
Paris, where he soon made his peace at Court. Never- 
theless, the Corsican command was given to Jourdain 
des Ursins, who retained it for some years, and even 
declared that Corsica was annexed to France and 
should never be surrendered. The Corsicans were 
willing enough to belong to any power other than 
Genoa ; but when, a few years later, France made 
peace with the empire, no more was heard of this 

Meantime the island was distracted by faction ; 
vendetta and plunder raged unchecked. The war 
had stopped agriculture. Spinola and Sampiero be- 
tween them had destroyed everything that came in 
their way, and the people were starving when Genoa, 
from whatever motive, supplied their wants. Abund- 
ance of grain was sent, and safe-conducts granted to 
all who wished to buy, not excluding those who had 
been in arms against the republic. 

In the year 1555 Spinola's forces were increased, a.d. 1555. 



and the fortifications of San Fiorenzo demolished 
to save the expense of keeping a garrison there. 
This place was not one of the ordinary Genoese 
fortresses, but had served the purpose of the French 
for a while. 

Jourdain des Ursins was not able to accomplish 
much against Spinola, but he was the centre of French 
influence and hostility to Genoa. He made an attempt 
to reduce Calvi, but failed. Soon after the Baron de 
la Garde arrived with a French fleet, and was joined 
by a Turkish squadron under Dragut. The siege of 
Calvi was again undertaken, Des Ursins bringing up 
his forces to invest the place on the land side. About 
six thousand men were landed from the two fleets and 
over twenty guns. On the loth August the French 
made three assaults, but were repulsed with the loss of 
three hundred men. Next day the Turks attacked in 
their turn, but it is doubtful if Dragut was in earnest ; 
at any rate, they did nothing of consequence, and the 
siege was raised. Des Ursins then wished to attack 
Bastia, but Dragut refused his help and sailed back to 
the Levant in the end of August.* The French fleet 
also returned to Marseilles, leaving Des Ursins to his 
fate. The appearance of a fleet under Doria perhaps 
hastened the movements of both Dragut and La Garde. 
The Turkish alliance did not help the French cause 
in Corsica. The people considered it impious and 
abominable to employ Turks against Christians, and 
whole provinces were persuaded to submit to the Bank 
of St George. Genoa being thus triumphant in the 
north, Des Ursins retired to Ajaccio. 

But the return of Sampiero raised all Corsica in 

* De Thou, Vol. II,, pp. 596, 597. 


arms once more, and yet one more attack was made 
on Calvi ; it failed, however, and Sampiero had to 
ride for his life. The Genoese tried to surprise 
Bonifacio, but their ships went aground during the 
night, and many men were lost. 

Thus, at the beginning of 1556, Genoa still held a.d. 1556. 
some of the seaports, but had failed to recover 
Bonifacio, whilst the French and Sampiero held 
most of the inland districts. 

In this state of affairs the truce of Vauxelles, 
signed early in this year between Henry II. and 
Charles V., had but little effect in checking 
hostilities in Corsica, if it was ever recognised 
there at all. When it was broken in November 
the position was unaltered, except for an increase, 
if possible, in the hatred borne to Genoa by the 
Corsicans. This was caused by their raising fresh 
taxes in the island, wherever they could, to fill 
the now almost exhausted coffers of the Bank of 
St George. 

In the next year Sampiero was recalled to France, 1557. 
he being still in the French service, and Jourdain 
des Ursins, deprived of his help, was reduced to 
great straits. Genoa reinforced her army in Corsica 
with over three thousand* men, mostly Germans, 
thereby gaining so great a superiority that the 
French commander was obliged to retire to the 
mountains, leaving garrisons in such towns as he 
still retained. 

The return of Sampiero with supplies, in 1558, '558- 
gave promise of some more determined action ; but 
the treaty of peace signed at Cateau-Cambresis, in 

* Uni-v. Hist., Mod., Vol. XXV., ch. Ixxiii., sec. 5. 


A.D. 1559. 1559, put an end to the war, so far as France was 
concerned. All the places held by that power in 
Corsica were handed over to Genoa, the French 
troops evacuating the island, with their artillery and 

Six years of almost continuous warfare had greatly 
impoverished both the island and the Bank of St 
George. The most complete disorder prevailed 
everywhere, whilst the hatred of the Corsicans was 
now fully reciprocated by the Genoese, who had 
suffered severely. 

Even the tranquillity of Genoa itself, never too 
well assured, had been troubled by jealousies con- 
nected with the Corsican administration. In 1556 
one of the Giustiniani, having been recalled from 
a command he held in the island before the usual 
term, attributed his disgrace to Nicola Palavicino. 
With the help of one of his brothers, and an officer 
who had served under him, he stabbed his supposed 
enemy in a church, after which the trio escaped. 
Such incidents tend to show the desperate character 
of the men usually sent at that period to represent 
the Genoese authority in Corsica. 

Sampiero did not leave the country with the 
French army, but ere long he found that Corsica 
was now no place for him. The determined enemy 
of Genoa could hope for no pardon, and the exhausted 
nation needed rest before making another struggle 
for liberty. His hope to engage the Queen of 
France in his cause was disappointed by the death 
of the king. Catherine was in no hurry to engage 
in any foreign enterprise, having too much already 
on her hands at home. Hostile to Genoa as she 



was, and friendly to Sampiero, she had to face both 
open and secret foes to herself and her children, and 
the fate of Corsica had, for the time, ceased to interest 

The Bank of St George had been unable to bear 
the cost of the Corsican war, and in 1556 had 
surrendered the island to the government of the 
republic. This, however, made no great difference 
in the mode of government ; the island was still 
treated as an estate from which its owners had a 
right to draw as much revenue as possible. A full 
inquiry into the value and extent of every man's 
estate was instituted, with a view of raising fresh 
taxes. This caused great discontent, and a general 
rising seemed imminent. Sampiero was looked to 
as leader, but this time Genoa was too strong for 
him. He realised that for the present he could do 
nothing, and left the country. Going to Marseilles, 
he left his family there, and went on himself to 
Paris. His estates, or, more properly, those of 
his wife, were promptly confiscated by the Genoese 

Genoese commissaries and officers of all sorts were 
now let loose to prey on Corsica. At peace with 
France, and free from danger from the Turk, with 
whom peace had been made in 1558, Genoa was 
now in a position to take vengeance on all who had 
opposed her. 

In 1560 the plundering began. Commissioners a.d. 1560. 
from Genoa valued all real property in Corsica, 
whether cultivated or not, and a tax of three per 
cent, was imposed on the value as assessed by them. 
In addition to this a capitation tax was levied, which, 



of course, affected the whole nation. But the land 
tax itself pressed upon the numerous villages or 
pieves, which have always owned considerable tracts 
of country, especially forest land, as well as upon the 
wealthier classes. Then, as now, there was much 
untitled land in Corsica, and the people had to pay, 
not merely on its value, but on its value as arbitrarily 

The tax was collected in the most oppressive 
manner ; those who resisted were put to death, 
prisoners are said to have been poisoned, and many 
of the principal men were imprisoned. 

While Corsica was thus oppressed Sampiero was 
not idle. He sought by every means to deliver his 
country from Genoa, even preferring a change of 
masters to leaving things as they were. His best 
chance seemed a treaty between Philip II. of Spain 
and the King of Navarre, by which the latter agreed 
to surrender Navarre in exchange for Corsica and 

Sampiero willingly consented to this arrangement, 
and went to Constantinople to try and get the 
Sultan's help, or at least to secure his neutrality. 
But the death of the King of Navarre put a stop 
to this plan, and Sampiero set forth to return to 
A.D. 1562. On his homeward journey he heard, to his dismay, 
that his wife Vannina had decided to put herself into 
the power of Genoa. Now, besides his indomitable 
enmity to the republic, which caused him to regard 
such a step with horror, Sampiero also saw that it 
might render him liable to suspicion amongst his friends. 
He was powerful enough to make it worth while to 



buy his submission, and the abduction of his wife and 
children would be a good excuse for his own surrender 
under a pretence of fear for their safety. 

Vannina had been living at Marseilles with her 
younger son, the elder, Alfonso, being at the French 
Court. A priest, named Ombrone, who was in 
Sampiero's confidence, together with one Agostino 
Bazzicalupo, used every possible argument to persuade 
her to go to Genoa. The restoration of her fief of 
Ornano was promised, and even the return of her 
husband to his native country, with pardon for his past 
offences. Finally she was persuaded, and removed her 
possessions from her house to a Genoese ship, in which 
she sailed with Ombrone and her younger son. But 
her flight was known ; she was pursued by Sampiero's 
friend Antonio di San Fiorenzo, with some Corsi- 
cans and caught at Antibes. She was then placed 
under the protection of the authorities at Aix, but, 
on her husband's arrival, she returned with him to 

The sight of his dismantled house enraged him 
beyond measure, and he determined on her death. He 
intended to have her killed by his black slaves ; but she, 
hearing this, entreated him to do it himself, in order 
that no hand but his should touch her. He consented ; 
and, after humbly asking her pardon, strangled her with 
his own hands ; and then caused her remains to be 
buried in the church of the Franciscans. This done, 
he went with speed to the French Court, to justify his 
crime in person. He was received with an outburst 
of horror and indignation, especially from the ladies, 
apprehensive of other husbands following so pernicious 
an example. Queen Catherine refused even to see 



him. But he, baring his breast and showing the scars 
received in the service of France, asked, ' What mattered 
it to the king whether he did well or ill, or how he 
arranged matters with his wife ? ' After all, in such 
a Court, Sampiero's military talents and fidelity far 
outweighed the murder of his wife. Whatever was 
thought at the time, it is certain that he was not 
punished in France. But later, in Corsica, he was to 
suffer for this deed of cruelty and violence, which casts 
a deep shadow over the memory of one of Corsica's 
greatest patriots. 

Sampiero now spent some time in vain attempts 
to get help for his country. But he found it impos- 
sible to obtain open assistance, although, in secret, 
both money and arms were forthcoming from France 
and Tuscany. Finally, he determined to attempt a 
rising without any outside assistance, hoping by success 
to enlist sympathy. He used what money and arms 
he had in fitting out a small expedition, and landed in 
A.D. 1564. the gulf of Valinco in June 1564. The strength of 
this expedition is variously described. It seems certain 
that it was conveyed in two ships from Marseilles, and 
that the ships brought little or no stores ; so the highest 
figure given, one hundred and fifty Corsicans, besides 
the personal friends of the leader, seems most probable. 
Amongst his friends were Antonio di San Fiorenzo, 
Campocasso and Peter Ornano, besides some French- 
men. Campocasso belonged to one of the families in 
which the title of caporale had become hereditary, and 
had been active in resistance to the arbitrary taxation 
lately imposed by the Genoese. Some of his relations 
having been captured and threatened with death, he 
had submitted to exile to save their lives. 



Having secured Olmeto, Sampiero sent his ships to 
France for military stores, and marched north towards 
Corte. The people welcomed him, and his army grew 
as he marched onward. Fornari, the Genoese governor, 
shut himself up in Bastia and wrote to Genoa for help, 
which was promptly sent, under command of Niccolo di 
Negro, who marched at once to Corte, where he waited 
for Sampiero. But when the latter arrived, it was 
evident that the Genoese forces could not cope with 
him, and they retired. The Corsican army advanced, 
and encountered that of Genoa near Vescovato. For 
some time the fight went on without much advantage 
to either side, when a party of Corsicans in the Genoese 
service faltered in their efforts at the sight of Sampiero. 
The Corsican leader, who had kept a reserve of 
picked men under his own command, took such 
advantage of their hesitation that the Genoese army 
was soon in flight towards Bastia, and the district of 
Vescovato was secured to the Corsicans. At Caccia 
another battle took place, where the Genoese troops, 
caught in a defile, were defeated with a loss of over three 
hundred killed (amongst whom was Niccolo di Negro), 
besides many prisoners. But Sampiero had to do more 
than win battles. All over the island the people were 
desirous of joining him, and he had to leave his friend 
Antonio in command of the army and go himself to 
Vico, where he was met by many of the magnates of 
the island. They declared in his favour, and he was 
soon afterwards proclaimed chief of the nation. He 
does not appear to have assumed any particular title on 
this occasion, but his authority was very generally 
recognised throughout the whole country. 

Porto Vecchio fell into the hands of the patriots 


about this time, and the power of Genoa sank very 
low. But now Stephen Doria, one of their best men, 
was chosen for the Corsican command. He had 
acquired his reputation under the empire and under 
Philip of Spain, and had more talent for war than 
most of the Genoese nobles of the day. But his 
ferocity was at least equal to his capacity, and he did 
not scruple to avow his intention of destroying the 
crops and buildings throughout the country, and his 
desire to exterminate the inhabitants, and replace 
them by colonists more submissive to the parental 
authority of the republic. 

Soon after his arrival he took Vescovato and forti- 
fied it ; he also brought thither a convoy of provisions 
from the fleet, defeating the Corsicans, who tried to 
cut it ofF. 

Doria's forces were increased by German and 
Spanish auxiliaries, and Sampiero was forced to retreat. 
Doria pursued him, but presently found his troops 
attacked by dysentery. His force was not so large 
that he could afford to risk loss by sickness, and he 
retired to Bastia, his route marked by burning villages 
and ruined crops. Then Sampiero retook Vescovato 
and still kept his hold on the greater part of the 
island. A raid was made by some of the Genoese 
forces right across the mountains to Bastelica, where 
they destroyed the house in which the Corsican leader 
had been born ; so rapidly was this carried out that 
they regained Bastia without being pursued. 

The distance from Bastia to Bastelica is over fifty 
miles direct, the country is very difficult, and Vescovato 
was held by the Corsicans, so it is evident that Doria 
was both active and bold. 



Some battalions of Spaniards arrived towards the end 
of 1564 to reinforce Doria's army, and Porto Vecchio 
was retaken. Provisions being scanty, the artillery 
and infantry were embarked to proceed to Calvi, the 
cavalry going by land to the same place ; an arduous 
task in a hostile and mountainous country, which, 
however, they accomplished. But a storm destroyed 
some of the transports and damaged others, the whole 
of the artillery being lost. This delayed Doria's 
operations, and his troops went into winter quarters 
in Cap-Corse. 

The patriot cause at this period suffered by the 
defection of Campocasso, who retired to his estates, 
and afterwards remained neutral. 

The following year, 1565, was taken up in marches a.d. 1565. 
and counter-marches, skirmishes and raids, without 
much result, except the devastation of the country. 
The Genoese troops cut down the green corn and 
burnt the villages. 

An assembly held at Bozio confirmed Sampiero's 
authority ; and he did what was possible to form a 
regular government, on the lines of that established by 
Sambucuccio di Alando. 

In a battle near Corte, Sampiero was defeated, and 
barely escaped with his life ; an indecisive engagement 
took place near Omessa, and Corte was taken by the 

Doria returned to Genoa at the end of the year, 
having, during his Corsican command, done all he 
could to reconquer the country, and succeeded in 
laying waste a great part of it. Sampiero sent, or 
went, to France about this time and obtained some 
money, but no men. His son Alfonso joined him, 



bringing some standards, which were worse than 
useless, as their distribution caused jealousy in the 
patriot army. Letters were sent to the French Court 
and to the Duke of Parma, protesting against the 
apathy of Europe, which allowed the Genoese tyranny 
to continue. 
A.D. 1566. Vivaldi succeeded Stephen Doria, hoping to triumph 
by fraud where his predecessor had failed by the use 
of force. His first experiment was tried on Antonio 
di San Fiorenzo, against whom he employed an 
assassin, who hoped to shoot him and escape. He 
failed. Then an attempt was made to poison Antonio, 
which so far succeeded as to make him ill. So Vivaldi 
was recalled ; Francesco de' Fornari and Rafaele 
Guistiniano being sent in his place. 

The new governors took advantage of the enmity 
borne to Sampiero by some members of the Ornano 
family. Three of Vannina's cousins, Gian Antonio, 
Francesco and Michelangelo, were disposed to avenge 
her death. Moreover, by killing Sampiero, they 
would ingratiate themselves with the Genoese govern- 
ment, earn a reward, and possibly get possession of the 
Ornano estates, besides taking vengeance on their 
enemy. The name of Peter Ornano, who accom- 
panied Sampiero when he landed in 1564, does not 
appear in this conspiracy. A priest named Ambrogio, 
who appears to have had some reason for hating 
Sampiero, was in his confidence as well as in the plot ; 
and his servant Vittolo, whom he greatly trusted, was 
bribed to betray him. 
1567. Sampiero was at Vico, when Ambrogio brought 
him false news of a rising in the Rocca district. It 
was not his habit to delay on such occasions, nor did 



he do so now. He sent Vittolo forward with twenty- 
horsemen to the Cauro (or Cavro) valley, through 
which his road lay ; he himself followed, with his 
son Alfonso and a few friends. Vittolo sent word 
to the conspirators, to let them know that their 
chance had come ; and they laid an ambush in a 
defile through which their victim had to pass, having 
a company of Genoese musketeers, under the command 
of Giustiniano, ready to assist them, if necessary. 
Sampiero and his companions were riding quietly 
through the defile, fearing nothing, and trusting to 
the precautions taken by Vittolo, who had rejoined 
them, when they were suddenly beset and almost 

Sampiero ordered his son to escape, which the 
latter reluctantly did. Then he faced his enemies, 
who, although with numbers on their side, feared to 
attack him. Gian Antonio he wounded, but in the 
struggle he was shot from behind, it is said by the 
traitor Vittolo. The two other Ornani then stabbed 
him to death, cut his head off, and carried it to 
Fornari. The Ornani and Giustiniano shared the 

Although Sampiero was dead the Corsicans were 
not yet subdued. Alfonso, in spite of his youth (he 
was not yet twenty-one years of age), was called 
to the command of the patriots. He defeated 
Giustiniano and drove him into Ajaccio, and then 
held an assembly at Orezza, where his authority 
was confirmed. But the spirit of faction, held in 
check to some extent by his father, was soon rampant 
throughout the land, and Alfonso could not control it. 
The nation was tired of warfare and wanted peace ; 



the Senate of Genoa was willing to grant terms. 
Finally, George Doria was sent to try and pacify the 
Corsicans. The new governor was both humane 
and capable. He found the nation exhausted with 
war, and torn to pieces by faction, and he soon 
gained the confidence of some of the more powerfiil 
and wealthy families. 
A.D. 1569. To Alfonso he offered peace, and liberty to retire to 
France unmolested. Before long the young man 
was persuaded to agree to terms for himself and his 
adherents. The Bishop of Sagona arranged the treaty, 
and in 1569 Alfonso left Corsica, having stipulated 
for liberty to all who desired it to do the same ; 
besides obtaining a general pardon for the nation, and 
the abolition of the recent oppressive taxes. Many 
followed his example, some going with him to France, 
some to Venice, and some to Rome, to form a 
Corsican guard for the Popes. The rights of the 
Terra del Commune were guaranteed, the power of 
the nobility kept in check, and for a time Corsica was 
well governed ; but freedom was lost, and the nation 
too utterly crushed to attempt to regain it. 

Sampiero was nearly seventy years old when he was 
killed, but still vigorous and active, in spite of the 
hardships he had endured in his adventurous career. 
He is described as a tall, dark man, of stern aspect 
and reserved in manner. Simple in his habits and 
pure in his life, he commanded the respect of friend 
and foe alike. The tragic fate of his wife threw a 
gloom over his last years, and doubtless impeded his 
efforts at gaining freedom for his country. With 
Sampiero as King of Corsica, instead of a rebel 
chief, the fate of the nation might have been very 



different. As it was, he lived and suffered almost in 

A happier fate was in store for his son. Well 
received in France, he became a distinguished soldier, 
and, as Marshal Ornano, earned a place in history and 
the friendship of Henry IV. 




A.D.I570-I729. George Doria having pacified Corsica, the nation 
enjoyed some measure of tranquillity under his govern- 
ment. But he had to contend against plague and 
famine, as w^ell as against constant attacks of pirates, 
w^ho ravaged the coasts, and carried ofF men and 
women into slavery. 

After his return to Genoa the administration 
grewf more and more corrupt. The government of 
the republic became, in the last quarter of the six- 
teenth century, regular and consistent, free from the 
constant revolutions of earlier days, and therefore less 
liable to attack. Genoa now oppressed Corsica 
methodically, treating the subject nation with con- 
tempt, and deliberately preventing the islanders from 
improving their condition. Even the Genoese 
families living in the island, and owning land there, 
were regarded in Genoa as having degraded them- 
selves by so doing. 

The higher ecclesiastical oiSces were in the hands 
of foreigners, who took small interest in their flocks. 
The people, very devout in spite of their violent 
passions, trusted only in the poor priests whom 



they knew, and who were their fellow-countrymen, 
the bishops had little or no influence. 

The magistrates and officers sent by the republic 
were followed by a horde of adventurers, who seized 
upon every lucrative office, adding to their salaries 
by every extortion in their power. Appeal to Genoa 
was almost useless, for the prison doors opened to 
receive all who brought complaints against the 
government. Inflexible and cruel, the republic re- 
ferred complainants to the Inquisitors of State, and 
judged their cases, not from evidence, nor in open 
court, but ^ ex informaia conscientia' [See Vincens, 
Hist, de la Repub. de Genes^ Bk. XII., ch. iv. This 
picture of Genoese oppression is taken from a writer 
of Genoese, not Corsican, history. See also Sismondi, 
Hist, des Fran^ais^ ch. xlviii.) 

The governor was generally some ruined senator, 
who redeemed his fortunes during his term of office. 
Complaints against him were not listened to in an 
assembly where 'every senator who was to give his 
vote did not know but by extravagance he himself 
might one day be obliged to have recourse to the 
same expedient.' * 

Besides his salary and provision for his table, the 
governor received twenty-five per cent, on the pro- 
ceeds of confiscations and fines. His lieutenants and 
officers were scattered about the island, from which 
they drew not merely present subsistence but pro- 
vision for the future. In fact, the country was 
devoured by those who should have developed it. 
Commerce was destroyed, or, at least, much hindered, 
for nothing could be exported except to Genoa. 

* Boswell, Account of Corsica, ch. ii. 



A considerable revenue was drawn from the sale 
of licences to carry firearms, which, according to 
Filippini,* were practically unknown until the French 
invasion under Paul de Thermes. 

The old practice of ' vendetta ' revived, and spread 
with fearful rapidity. This custom has been the cause 
of greater misery than even the Genoese rule in 
Corsica. A vendetta is simply a feud carried on from 
one generation to another, perhaps long after the 
original cause of offence has been forgotten. Some 
quite trivial quarrel may start it. A dispute leading 
to high words, thence to blows, amongst men who 
always carry arms, often ends in the death of one of 
the disputants. Should no legal punishment overtake 
the criminal, the national code of honour requires 
one of the victim's family to kill, either the slayer, 
or, failing him, one of his relations. This done, 
the duty of killing is transferred to the family of the 
second victim. Naturally this system becomes com- 
plicated, and the two families are soon in a state of 
private war. Of late years firm government and 
impartial justice have done much to mitigate this 
evil, but in the time now under consideration there 
can be no doubt that justice was by no means 
impartial, and a rich man, or one with influential 
friends, could kill his enemy with the certainty of 
being acquitted, or even evading trial altogether. 

Thus the old custom — checked under more than 
one of the patriot leaders, whose first care was 
always to administer justice fairly — soon revived, and 
flourished exceedingly. The practice of carrying 

* A famous Corsican historian. He collected and edited the works of 
earlier writers, and brought the narrative down to 1594. 



firearms became universal, so that the results of the 
vendetta were greatly increased. Various figures 
can be adduced to show the terrible waste of life 
thus caused, but it appears certain that the number 
of violent deaths amounted to hundreds every year.* 

A vendetta once declared, both sides must be on 
guard. So that a man be killed, the manner of his 
killing matters not at all. He may be shot from 
behind a wall or out of a window, without any 
dishonour attaching to the slayer. 

A man's connections might easily bring him into 
a vendetta with which he personally had nothing to 
do, and thus the ' vendetta transversale ' became fre- 
quent. Families found themselves involved in war 
by the marriage of a relation, and the obligation was 
never evaded, nobody ever even thought of such a 

Even when none but children were left, as they 
grew up they learned where to seek for enemies ; 
and the fatal word ' rimbecco ' (a term implying 
neglect to take vengeance) would inflame once more 
a quarrel that had been all but forgotten. 

It is no wonder that such an institution prevented any 
strong political combination amongst the Corsicans ; 
when so many families had their own private wars to 
attend to, there was little inclination to combine. 

One career was open to a Corsican — that of a 
soldier. The Genoese had good reason to know their 
courage and endurance, qualities which they turned to 
account by enlisting as many as possible for service on 

* 1700 in two years (Boswell) ; 28,715 in thirty-two years (Valery) ; 
28,000 in thirty years (Gregorovius) ; 900 per annum (Sismondi). The 
population of the island was distinctly under 200,000. 



the Continent. The more restless spirits were thus 
diverted from rebellion, and their help and obedience 
secured to the republic. 

When French policy embroiled Genoa with Savoy, 
in 1624-25, six hundred Corsicans served in the Genoese 
army. Again, in the war which began in 1666, the 
Corsican troops did good service. At Castel Vecchio, 
in August 1672, they almost destroyed the Pied- 
montese army ; and at one time Restori (the Corsican 
leader) had near six thousand of them under his 

In October 1676 about a thousand Greeks from 
the Morea, in despair at the oppression they suffered 
under Turkish rule, left their homes and settled in 
Corsica. They had previously agreed with the re- 
public that they should receive land at Paomia, near 
Vico, as a fief, on condition that they should be ready 
to serve their new rulers by land or sea when required. 
The colony was provided with grain and cattle, and 
assisted in many ways by the Genoese, who hoped 
to gain a friendly community in a country where 
they well knew that most of the inhabitants were 
their enemies. For a time the colony flourished, but 
the Corsicans both despised and hated the newcomers, 
and often attacked them ; and when the nation revolted 
against Genoa, in 1729, they were obliged to retire to 

In 1724 the island was honoured with a second 
governor, whose seat was at Ajaccio, in addition to 
the one so long known at Bastia. About ten years 
before the ' dodici ' had represented to the govern- 

* See Univ. Hist., Mod., Vol. XXV., ch. btxiii., sec. 7. 
t See Boswell, Account of Corsica, ch. ii. 



ment the terrible frequency of crimes of violence, and 
had obtained an edict suppressing the licences to carry- 
arms. To make up for the loss of revenue entailed 
by this measure a new tax was levied, called the 
'due seini ' (twelve scudi on each hearth). But the 
sale of licences to carry arms went on. This led to 
great discontent, which was not alleviated by the 
arrival of a new crowd of harpies at Ajaccio. 

While the people were thus harried and annoyed, 
news came of the execution of several Corsican soldiers 
in Liguria, for killing some peasants who had jeered 
at one of them who was undergoing a mihtary 

The Corsicans regarded this execution as an insult 
to the nation, and were eager for vengeance ; and 
thus irritated, oppressed, and almost united by their 
anger, they were, in the year 1 729, in such a state of 
unrest that very little was needed to cause a rebellion. 

Both civilisation and trade owe much to the Italian 
republics, and Genoa was one of the greatest of them 
all. Badly as she treated Corsica, we cannot but 
admire her wondrous energy and endurance. But 
misgovernment brings about its own retribution, and 
the downfall of Genoa may reasonably be attributed 
to Corsica. 




1729- The tax called ' due seini ' was the apparent cause of 
the revolt of the Corsicans in 1729. It began in the 
district of Corte, where the people, exasperated by 
the harshness with which the tax was collected, drove 
the taxgatherers away from the pieve of Bozio. 
Some soldiers were sent by Pinelli, the governor, to 
restore order ; and they arrived safely at Poggio di 
Tavagna, where they slept. There, during the 
night, they were disarmed and sent back to Bastia 
by Pompiliani, one of the principal inhabitants of 
the place, who was forthwith recognised as the 
chief of the insurgents. The movement spread with 
such rapidity as to make it appear that there had 
been, if not a plot, at least great readiness for 
action amongst the people.* 

The fortress of Aleria was seized, and the insurgents 
supplied themselves with weapons from its armory. 
Then they marched on Bastia, their numbers rapidly 

* See Benson {^State of Corsica, sec. 2); Gregorovius (Bk. II., ch. ii.) ; 
and Boswell [Account of Corsica, ch. ii.), for details, which vary some- 



increasing, and Pinelli found himself besieged by five 
thousand men ; not indeed trained soldiers, but men 
used to arms and infuriated by oppression. The 
position was sufficiently serious. 

Genoa, trusting to the dissensions amongst her 
subjects, had no very great force in the island, and 
Pinelli could not face his assailants ; so he took 
refuge in the citadel and sent the Bishop of Mariana 
to negotiate. 

The Corsicans simply demanded the abolition of 
all taxes. The bishop proposed an appeal to the 
Senate, and a truce of twenty-four days was ar- 
ranged to give time for messengers to go to Genoa 
and return. 

During the truce the people returned to their villages, 
whilst Pinelli concentrated his forces and sought to set 
the Corsicans at each others' throats instead of at his 
own. But they were not to be deceived, and again 
besieged Bastia with double their former force ; and 
then, having confined the Genoese to the seaports, 
they held an assembly at Furiani. Pompiliani now 
resigned the leadership to Ceccaldi* and Giafferi, 
who were elected generals ; Domenico Raffaelli, an 
ecclesiastic, being associated with them as minister of 

The Bishop of Mariana again negotiated, and a 
truce of four months was the result of his diplomacy. 
A new Genoese Governor, Doria, tried to gain 
adherents amongst the patriots, but they were too 
determined in their enmity to listen to him. Ceccaldi 
escaped an attempt to assassinate him ; and he and 
GiafFeri made a journey through the country, compos- 

* Or Giacaldi. 


ing quarrels and getting the people to forswear 
vendetta, for the time being at all events. Then 
they called together another assembly at Corte, and 
set up a regular government, appointing magistrates, 
raising money and organising a national militia. 

The latter was composed of all Corsicans capable 
of bearing arms, whose names were entered in 
muster-rolls by districts. They were commanded 
by officers chosen from the chief men of the dis- 
tricts to which they belonged. They received no 
pay, and provided their own arms, ammunition 
and food. Thus troops were easily and quickly 
raised, but an army so assembled is liable to very 
speedy dispersal. A sudden blow can be struck, 
but no long campaign can be made for want of 

At the same time it is difficult for an enemy to 
crush a warlike population, whose quickly raised 
troops can as quickly disperse and return to their 
ordinary occupations, thus rendering it impossible to 
destroy an army which has apparently ceased to 
exist. The mere possession of arms cannot be used 
as a proof against an individual in a country where 
all men carry them as a matter of course, whilst 
any attempt to disarm the people can but precipitate 
a fresh outbreak. 

The Corsican clergy assembled at Orezza, and 
unanimously decided that no allegiance was due to 
Genoa, unless the republic granted the people their 
rights, and the assembly at Corte swore never more 
to submit to Genoese rule. 

Canon Orticone was sent as Corsican agent to the 
Continent, with a roving commission to get assistance 


wherever he could ; and GiafFeri went to Tuscany 
to buy arms and ammunition, the weapons already 
in the hands of the patriots being scarcely suitable 
for warfare. 

The truce expired without any treaty being arranged. 
The Genoese government demanded unconditional 
submission, and the surrender of Ceccaldi and 
GiaiFeri ; but the two generals were not mad enough 
to think of putting themselves in the power of the 

The war went on ; many towns were soon taken 
by the patriots, and in addition to Bastia, Calvi and 
Ajaccio were both besieged, and seemed likely to fall. 

The Pope, being sounded as to his inclination to 
take possession of the island, only offered diplomatic 
assistance. But this did not satisfy the Corsicans, who 
refused to discuss terms, except under the auspices 
of France, Spain or Germany. At Genoa the two 
first-named powers were suspected of favouring the 
Corsicans ; the republic therefore asked if the French 
government would object to the intervention of the 
emperor, which included the landing of German 
troops in the island. 

France merely pointed out that Genoa would 
probably have to pay a high price for the emperor's 

Charles VI. assisted Genoa with troops, but the a.d. 1731. 
price was decidedly high — thirty thousand florins a 
month for a corps of eight thousand men, and a 
further payment of one hundred florins for each man 
killed or missing. The Senate, to save money, at 
first only used half the number of men offered by 
the emperor. 



They landed in Corsica, under General von Wach- 
tendonk, in August 1731, and very speedily relieved 
Bastia. This was a sore blow to the patriots, who 
had hoped to gain possession of this port. 

A circular was issued, calling on all Corsicans 
abroad to return and fight for liberty. This appeal 
met with a prompt response. The exiles landed at 
every harbour, and those unable to bear arms sent 
them, or sent money to buy them. From Marseilles, 
Tuscany, Rome, Naples, wherever the appeal found 
them, they rushed to the defence of their country. 
It is related of Leoni, a captain in the Neapolitan 
service, that he landed near San Fiorenzo, and there 
met his father, who was about to assault the tower 
of Nonza. The old man handed over his command 
to his son, who took the place, but was killed in 
doing so. A messenger came to the father wath 
news of his son's death, but found him rather elated 
at the taking of Nonza than downcast at the loss 
of his son. Such was the temper of the Corsicans 
during this war. 

Camillo Doria, the Genoese governor, relieved from 
anxiety as to the fate of Bastia, ravaged the country 
and destroyed the villages. 

Wachtendonk endeavoured to reduce the district 
of Balagna, but failed ; and being surrounded in a 
bad position among the mountains near San Pelle- 
grino, he was glad to make terms with Giafferi, 
who permitted him to retreat to Bastia, on condi- 
tion that he should try to propitiate the emperor 
in favour of the patriots. 

For this purpose an armistice for two months was 
arranged. A statement of the Corsican grievances 



was sent to Vienna, but no answer was returned 
within the time agreed on, and the war broke out 

The rest of the eight thousand Germans now a.d. 1732. 
appeared on the scene, but could not subdue the 
patriots. At Calenzana, near Calvi, with Doria in 
command, they were defeated with great loss on the 
2d February 1732. Not less than five hundred men 
fell and were buried on the field of battle, which 
has since been known as the ' Campo Santo de' 
Tedeschi.' The clergy of Calenzana instituted the 
pious custom of annually sprinkling holy water on 
the spot, in charitable memory of the foreigners 
who fell there. 

It is said that in this engagement the inhabi- 
tants of the village cast their bee-hives amongst 
their assailants, and thereby threw them into con- 

After Calenzana the Genoese applied to the 
emperor for more men ; and a fresh contingent of 
another four thousand men arrived under Prince Louis 
of Wiirtemberg, with four other generals, including 
Wachtendonk, to help him. 

He offered a general amnesty, on condition that 
the people should lay down their arms and submit 
to Genoa, which they promptly declined to do. He 
then made a demonstration in several columns (his 
generals had to be utilised) and advanced slowly. 
As he advanced the Corsicans retired to the 
mountains, whence they harassed the German 
columns. This campaign was soon stopped by 
the arrival of the emperor's reply to the Corsican 

* See Valery, Liv. I., ch. xxxviii. 


statement of grievances, together with orders to 
the prince to act with great leniency. 

Some of the Corsican leaders surrendered to the 
German commander, who handed them over to 
Genoa, under a guarantee of safety. At Savona 
they acted as plenipotentiaries to agree to a treaty 
between the republic and the Corsicans. These 
leaders were Giafferi, Ceccaldi, RafFaelli and Aitelli ; 
and their lives were in no small danger while they 
were in the power of the Genoese, even under 
Wiirtemberg's guarantee.* 

The treaty was signed in May 1732, but was 
announced at Genoa and at Corte in terms which 
varied considerably. The Corsicans understood that 
the emperor guaranteed them a general amnesty, 
and the remission of all unpaid taxes, besides admis- 
sion to all offices of state and sundry other advan- 
tages. But the clauses in favour of Corsica were 
separated from the rest of the treaty, and lacked the 
imperial guarantee, which was only attached to those 
which obliged the Corsicans to submit. Moreover, 
it was, in fact, no treaty at all ; but only a decree 
published by Genoa at the instance of the emperor. 
Such as it was, however, it answered its purpose for 
a time. Most of the foreign troops were withdrawn, 
Wachtendonk staying with a small force to see the 
new regulations carried into effect. But about three 
thousand Germans had found graves in Corsica, prob- 
ably without any notion why they ever came there 
at all. 

* Sismondi (Hist, des Fran^ais, ch. xlviii.) puts their captivity after 
tlie peace, not before it ; but I venture to think that it was as here 



Genoa paid high for imperial aid, as had been pre- 
dicted by France, Besides other expenses, 'il se 
trouvait un mecompte de cinq millions de livres 
reste inexplicable.' * Ceccaldi went to Spain, Raffaelli 
to Rome, Aitelli and Giafferi to Leghorn. Wach- 
tendonk and his troops left in June 1733. Corsica 
was pacified. 

* Vincens, Liv. XII., ch. iv. 




The departure of the German troops left the 
Genoese officials free to govern or misgovern Cor- 
sica as they liked ; but they were now deprived of 
their only safeguard against the vengeance of their 
so-called subjects, who had learnt to respect the 
Germans, but regarded their former oppressors with 
A.D. 1734. In the year 1734, Giacinto Paoli of Morosaglia (as 
soon as a reasonable pretext had been given by a few 
arrests and attempted assassinations on the part of 
the Genoese officials), gathered together at Rostino 
a sufficient number of patriots to constitute an 
assembly. Paoli and Castineta were elected generals 
provisionally, and were soon joined by Giaff'eri, who 
lost no time in returning from abroad. Corte was 
quickly taken, and an assembly held there. War 
was then formally declared against Genoa, and the 
island put under the protection of the King of Spain. 
Canon Orticone proceeded to Spain with this intelli- 
gence, and the Corsicans fought under the Spanish 
flag, until Orticone returned with the news that 


Spain declined the honour of protecting Corsica, 
but would not assist Genoa. 

Then the patriots, following the example set by 
some of the earlier Italian republics, declared the 
Virgin Mary sovereign protectress of Corsica, and 
her picture replaced the Spanish standard. This 
patroness, at all events, did not refuse their homage, 
and the enthusiasm caused by an appeal to the 
religious feelings of the nation was of more value 
than the interested or hesitating aid of a foreign 

GiaflFeri being again appointed general, in the 
course of a few months he reduced the extent of 
the Genoese territory to that contained within the 
walls of their fortresses, in spite of the efforts of 
troops raised in Switzerland, assisted by some not 
very trustworthy companies recruited from the dregs 
of the Genoese populace. 

In the following year another assembly was held a.d. 1735. 
at Corte, and the supreme government confided to 
GiafFeri, Paoli and Ceccaldi as generals. The inde- 
pendence of Corsicd was proclaimed and a new con- 
stitution inaugurated, under which two parliamentary 
committees, one of six members and one of four, 
formed a permanent check on the power of the 
generals. The committee of six was to be renewed 
every three months, and accompanied the generals in 
their journeys and compaigns ; that of four was a 
board of finance and justice. Parliament (as the 
assembly may now be called) became the sole 
legislative authority, and it was decided to codify the 

The emperor was by this time too much occupied 


with the war of the Polish succession to assist the 
Republic of Genoa, and after Wachtendonk's de- 
parture, in 1733, no German troops were available 
for the oppression of the patriots. Pinelli, the 
governor in whose time the first outbreak of the 
revolt had occurred, was sent over with troops, and 
well supported by sea. The island was blockaded 
by Genoese cruisers, and commerce at a standstill. 
Although even the church bells were melted, am- 
munition was failing. Food became scarce, and the 
nation was literally being starved out. In despair, 
the leaders made proposals for peace, which were 
not entertained. 

At this juncture two ships (equipped by private 
individuals in England, out of sympathy with the 
Corsicans) suddenly and unexpectedly dropped anchor 
at Isola Rossa. A large cargo of provisions and 
warlike stores was promptly landed and handed 
over to the Corsican government, the only pay- 
ment accepted being some Corsican wine for the 
crews to drink to the health of the patriots. This 
seasonable aid, useful in itself to equip the almost 
destitute army, was still more usefiil in its moral 
effect. Genoa feared more help would be given 
from abroad. 

The republic oiFered peace, but found, in her turn, 
that such offers may be useless. The patriots, armed 
and equipped anew, stormed Aleria (capturing four 
guns) and invested both Calvi and Bonifacio. 

But two shiploads of warlike stores cannot main- 
tain an army. The people were soon in need again, 
but held out, hoping against hope for another con- 
signment of stores from unknown friends — hoping 



still more for substantial aid from some foreign 
prince. This help the people now believed would 
be given, and strange reports were allowed currency 
in the island. 

In 1732, when Giafferi and his companions were 
in semi-captivity, pending the conclusion of the treaty 
which led to the withdrawal of the German troops, 
a certain Westphalian baron, Theodore von NeuhofF, 
found himself in Genoese territory and possessed of 
some influence. In his youth this man had been a 
page of the Duchess of Orleans ; he had been in the 
Spanish service as well as in that of France ; and, 
finally, he became a wandering adventurer, whose 
domestic affairs were romantic rather than respectable. 
He made the acquaintance of the Corsican envoys, and 
contrived to be of use to them in their troubles, while 
his undeniable capacity for a kind of statecraft im- 
pressed them. In his wanderings he had been thrown 
in company with such men as Law, who convulsed 
France with his financing, and with statesmen and 
soldiers of many lands. The situation of Corsica 
gave him the idea of making himself a king, and he 
did it. 

He took pains to inform himself fully on Corsican 
politics, and spent all he had and all he could borrow 
in the purchase of arms and stores for the patriots. 
He convinced Orticone that his intimate connection 
with European courts would enable him to expel the 
Genoese from Corsica for ever. His reward was to 
be a crown. 

From Leghorn he wrote to the Corsican chiefs, a.d. 1736. 
offering his assistance if they would guarantee his 
election as king. Count Rivarola, who was then the 



Corsican envoy in Tuscany, gave him the assurance 
he required, and he determined to make the attempt. 
It is hardly credible that the patriot leaders really 
believed all the Baron von Neuhoff told them ; but he 
was useful in restoring hope to their followers, while 
his investment in arms and stores seemed to prove his 

He landed (i2th March 1736) at the mouth 
of the river Tavignano, where stands all that is left 
of the ancient city of Aleria. He was attired in a 
scarlet caftan of silk, Moorish trousers, yellow shoes, 
and a Spanish hat and feather ; a girdle of yellow silk 
held a pair of magnificently ornamented pistols ; at his 
side hung a sabre, and as a sceptre he carried a 
truncheon. Two French officers, some Italians and 
Moors, accompanied this strange figure, treating him 
with deep respect. Truly, as Boswell puts it, 
' Theodore was a most singular man.' The rumours 
which had for some time circulated had recently 
become more and more circumstantial, and Theodore's 
arrival was eagerly expected. At the sight of a ship 
under British colours, which the baron had adopted 
for the time being, the shore was soon thronged with 
Corsicans, hoping for another cargo of arms and 
stores, and perhaps something else. When Theodore 
landed, his appearance naturally created some excite- 
ment ; and the people, with deep interest, saw some 
of their leaders welcome the stranger, and heard 
Xavier Matra address him as 'king.' 

The cargo he brought was now discharged; and when 
he displayed ten pieces of ordnance, four thousand 
muskets, three thousand pairs of shoes, besides some 
hundreds of sacks full of grain, and a fair supply of 



both ammunition and money, and explained that this 
was merely a first instalment, it was felt that a de- 
liverer had indeed come to Corsica in her hour of 

He lost no time in explaining that his corona- 
tion should take place at once, so that his already 
intimate relations with the Courts of Europe might 
be enhanced by the power to treat with their rulers 
as an equal. To this suggestion the generals 

On the 15th of April a parliament, consisting of 
two representatives from each commune, besides 
deputies of the clergy, assembled at Alesani, and 
Corsica was solemnly declared an independent 
kingdom, under the sovereignty of Theodore von 
Neuhoff and his heirs. He, with a council of 
twenty-four members, held the reins of government, 
checked by the necessity of obtaining the consent 
of parliament to his measures and to all taxation. 
Corsicans only were to be admitted into the public 
service. When these regulations had been drafted 
they were publicly read by a doctor of law, GafFori, 
and agreed to by the king and nation, the king 
swearing on the Gospel to respect the constitution. 
He was then conducted to the church, and crowned 
with a wreath of laurel and oak leaves. 

Theodore was now King of Corsica by as legitimate 
a title as could well be found ; but, unfortunately, 
he also styled himself ' Grandee of Spain, Lord of 

* Sismondi {Hist, des Fran^ais, ch. xlviii.) confirms these figures and 
values the cargo at ' un million d'ecus,* He insinuates that it was supplied 
by ' les deux puissances maritimes . . . par I'entremise de banquiers juifs 



Great Britain, Peer of France, Count of the Papal 
Dominions and Prince of the Empire.' * These 
pretensions justify the charge that the newly- 
elected monarch ' viewed things as one who is mad, 
or drunk, or in a fever.' t The Corsicans could 
hardly be expected to believe in such various titles. 
Moreover, it was not necessary to make such absurd 
pretensions. Corsica wanted a ruler and some 
money : a strong man with the sinews of war, 
even of civil war, for half the country was against 
him, or, at all events, not for him. His highflown 
titles caused too much to be expected, and he was 
unable to make the people forget their hopes of 
foreign support in the reality of victory and peace 
achieved at home. 

The king proceeded to form a court. GiafFeri 
and Paoli were created counts and appointed chief 
ministers, Xavier Matra, who had been the first 
to salute Theodore as king, became grand marshal 
of the palace and a marquis ; Costa became chancellor 
and a count ; GafFori's services were rewarded with 
the title of marquis, and he became the king's 
secretary, while various other titles and appointments 
were conferred. 

In the same month that the king began his reign 
Porto Vecchio and Sartene were taken from Genoa, 
and a striking proof of the popular trust in the 
monarchy was alForded by a temporary cessation 
of vendetta. 

Manufactories of arms and cloth were established; 
and an attempt was made to encourage foreign 

* See Gregorovius, Bk. II. ch. v. 
t Boswell, Account of Corsica, ch. ii. 



immigration by the offer of commercial privileges. 
A flag, green and yellow, with i the motto, ' In te 
Domine speravi,' was adopted as the national ensign, 
and the final proof of independence, a national 
coinage, was instituted. But want of means caused 
the coinage to be a debased one, and the issue 
scanty. Eagerly bought by collectors, the Corsican 
money was of little use as currency. 

The Senate of Genoa knew not what to make 
of this sudden apparition of monarchical govern- 
ment in Corsica, and feared the intrigues of foreign 
powers under the mask of Corsican royalty. Ere 
long, however, it became clear that they had only 
Theodore himself to deal with, and they began a 
war of manifestoes, branding him as an unprincipled 
and bankrupt adventurer, and setting a price on his 

Theodore replied not only with words but with 
deeds, and formed the siege of Bastia, fighting himself 
with great gallantry. Some districts still held out 
for Genoa, and the king, unable to take Bastia, set 
forth to reduce his rebellious subjects to obedience. 
In this he succeeded, routing such Genoese troops 
as still kept the field, and punishing the districts 
in which rebels were found with great and ill-timed 
severity, thereby alienating the affection with which 
the people had begun to regard him. 

The Genoese were confined to a few fortified 
cities -on the coast, and the Corsicans undertook 
privateering on a small scale to keep off the 
Genoese cruisers. The Senate raised a force of 
fifteen hundred men, drawn from the prisons and 
galleys, and let them loose on the country to 



pillage and murder as they chose. They earned 
the title of 'Vittoli,' from the name of the 
murderer of Sampiero. 

But the promised fleet of a friendly nation failed 
to arrive, and the people began to doubt their 
king's power to deliver them from their misery. 
In England the Genoese minister obtained a royal 
proclamation, forbidding any further supply of pro- 
visions, or other assistance to the Corsicans, while 
other powers made no sign. 

Theodore produced sham letters from the Con- 
tinent, which did not deceive the patriot leaders for 
long, and he found himself obliged to assemble 
parliament in September. A property tax was 
sanctioned ; but the murmurs of the assembly at 
the non-arrival of the promised help drove the 
king to the desperate expedient of promising to 
abdicate unless it came by the end of October, or 
else to go himself to the Continent to arrange matters 
with his allies. He probably was getting alarmed 
and looked forward to making, his escape, unless he 
should find himself strengthened by the events of 
the next few weeks. 

The time of waiting was occupied by a visit to 
the southern portion of the island, where most of 
the old feudal nobility of Corsica lived, and even 
retained considerable influence. Luca Ornano, at 
the head of a deputation, met the king and conducted 
him in state to Sartene. Here he instituted his 
order of knighthood, ' Delia Liberazione,' and in less 
than a month conferred the honour on over four hun- 
dred persons, many of them foreigners. The fees 
amounted to one thousand scudi for each knight, upon 



which sum the recipient of the honour was to receive 
ten per cent, per annum for life. If we may take the 
scudo as sixty-five shillings (the value of the gold scudo 
of Rome), the speculation was a good one (for Theo- 
dore), and even the silver scudo, worth four shillings, 
would bring in a considerable sum from four hundred 
knights. But we may doubt whether it was all paid. 
The king must have been obliged to accept many 
promises which, after his flight, would be for- 

A new party — the Indifferents — now sprang up, 
under the leadership of Aitelli and Rafaelli, and 
supported by Paoli. In spite of their name they 
were fighters, and repulsed the royal troops when 
attacked. The king decided to proceed to the 
Continent as he had promised, so he assembled a 
parliament at Sartene, and announced his intended 5th Nov. 
departure. GiafFeri, Paoli and Ornano were en- ^'°' '^^ 
trusted with the supreme power, and various other 
officials were appointed. Then, on nth November 
1736, the king proceeded to Aleria, whence he 
sailed for Leghorn under French colours, taking 
with him his chancellor, Costa, and a few officers 
of his household. The French flag protected him 
from a Genoese cruiser, and he landed at Leg- 
horn disguised as an abbe. Thence he went to 
Florence, then to Rome, and so to Naples, where 
he left his suite and started by sea for Amster- 
dam, promising good news for his people on his 

But the exiled king never again ruled in Corsica, 
in spite of all his efforts. He did indeed from time 
to time contrive to send assistance to his former 


subjects, and more than once he attempted a landing. 
But French intervention in Corsican affairs made it 
impossible for him to achieve anything, and at one 
time he seemed willing to sell his rights to the king 
of France, to wrhom the bargain did not commend 
itself.* His last attempt was made in 1743, when his 
pretensions to the Corsican crown made him a pos- 
sibly useful tool to England and her allies. Under 
the protection of a British fleet he issued proclama- 
tions and demanded the surrender of Isola Rossa 
and Ajaccio. But it was soon evident that he 
had no adherents left, and England abandoned his 
cause. He retired to London, and so passes out of 
Corsican history. His last days were passed in great 
poverty, part of the time in a debtor's prison. A 
subscription . was raised, but was insufficient to 
extricate him from his liabilities. Released shortly 
before his death, in 1756, he included the kingdom, 
of Corsica in the schedule of his effects. 

After Theodore's departure, in 1736, the regents, 
having obtained a parliamentary confirmation of their 
powers, proceeded to consider the question of accept- 
ing or rejecting certain proposals made by Genoa. 
The republic was tired of a war in which nothing 
could be won and much lost. It was recognised that 
without assistance Corsica could not be subdued. 
This assistance could now only be had from France ; 
but a numerous party objected to handing over 
the places still held in Corsica to French troops. 
Finally, it was decided to offer a general pardon and 
twelve years' exemption from taxation. This was the 
offer for the regents to consider, and they laid it 

* See Vincens, Bk XII., ch. v. 


before parliament. There it was thought that 
Genoa should treat with Corsica as one nation with 
another, and the following terms were demanded — 
a general amnesty, the Corsicans no longer to be 
regarded as rebels, the right to carry arms, freedom 
of residence in, or departure from, the island, and the 
intervention of some foreign power to guarantee the 
execution of the treaty. 

But Genoa insisted that the Corsicans were rebels 
and must be disarmed, and, above all, rejected any 
foreign intervention between masters and subjects. 
So the war continued, but nothing important was 
done on either side. The patriots were now in a.d. 1737. 
possession of almost the whole island. Genoa held 
Bastia, Calvi, Ajaccio and a few more places, but 
Porto Vecchio was in the hands of the Corsicans, 
besides which they had access to the sea at many 
points where stores could be landed in small vessels. 
Letters from King Theodore, promising help on a 
large scale, were published, and encouraged the 
people whilst depressing the Genoese, who never 
knew quite what to think of his expectations and 
really suspected some foreign intrigue hostile to 

At last they decided to seek aid from France. 
On the question of the guarantee, so much insisted 
upon by Corsica, Genoa was obliged to give way, 
because, otherwise, France declined to intervene. 
The republic tried to bring in the empire as well, 
but the emperor was otherwise engaged, and, while 
willing to take part in a treaty, declined to send 
any troops, preferring to leave the work to France. 
But it was agreed that the Genoese dominion in 



Corsica should be recognised, and that the concessions 
made by the republic should only appear as her own 
spontaneous acts. The Corsicans themselves were 
not consulted in the matter, and (July 1737) a 
treaty was signed between Genoa and France, by 
which the latter became pledged to reduce ' the 
rebels' to subjection. 

1 00 



Although no formal treaty had been made between a.d. 1735-37. 
France and Genoa until 1737, the state of Corsica 
had for some time occupied the attention of French 
statesmen. In 1735 M. de Campredon, the French 
minister at Genoa, contrived to keep his government 
informed on Corsican affairs, in spite of the subject 
being tabooed in the territory of the republic, the 
mention of Corsican victories sometimes even leading 
the speaker to the galleys, so jealously were state 
secrets guarded. He pointed out the impossibility of 
Genoa subduing the Corsicans, and at the same time 
indicated certain intrigues on the part of other powers 
which he had reason to suspect. Spain boasted that she 
could dispose of the island at pleasure, and had Giafferi 
at her command ; the kings of Naples and Sardinia 
both hoped to annex the country when Genoa should 
abandon it, an event which they regarded as highly 
probable ; the emperor contemplated handing it over 
to Portugal, whilst Paoli counted on English support. 



As to the republic, Campredon declared that there 
would be but little regret at the loss of Corsica, and 
that a bargain might easily be struck whereby Genoa 
should rid herself of a troublesome possession to her 
own great advantage. With the English already at 
Gibraltar and in Minorca, could France see them also 
in Corsica without disquietude ? Finally, he proposed 
that the Genoese should be persuaded to cede their 
rights to the King of France, whilst the Corsicans 
should be brought to consent to this measure. 

The king and his council agreed, and gave Campredon 
authority to act as he suggested. He proceeded to 
gain adherents in Corsica, and ere long procured from 
them a petition to the King of France, asking him to 
help them. No date was attached to this document, 
in order that it might be produced when it could best 
serve its purpose. 

Campredon believed that the Genoese would not 
much object to losing Corsica "if the French would 
make a show of taking it by force, but thought there 
might be some difficulty when a voluntary surrender 
of their 'kingdom' was proposed. He therefore urged 
the king to send troops and annex the island without 
warning. But Cardinal Fleury could not consent 
to so fragrant a breach of international law, and 
Campredon was obliged to content himself with 
secretly gaining supporters, being promised all that 
was necessary for the purpose. Soon after he received 
instructions to let the matter drop. 

But although at this period the French ministers did 

not think fit to risk the annexation of Corsica, still 

they were determined that no other power should get 

the island ; and when, in 1737, Genoa was compelled 



to ask for help, France was not unwilling to have so 
good an excuse for armed intervention. Early in 1738 a.d. 1738. 
(February or March, the date is variously given) the 
Count de Boissieux arrived with six battalions of 
French soldiers, for whom Genoa had to find rations 
and quarters, besides incurring a considerable debt to 
France. These troops were to be kept apart from the 
Genoese garrisons, and entirely under their own 
commander, who was to act in concert with the 
Genoese governor. 

The people at once prepared to resist this invasion, 
but were pacified by their chiefs, and consented to 
negotiate. France guaranteed a suspension of hostili- 
ties on the part of Genoa, and the patriots gave host- 
ages for their good behaviour. Paoli and GiafFeri 
wiote to Cardinal Fleury promising obedience to the 
king of France, 'our master.' The cardinal, in reply, 
pointed out that they were the subjects of Genoa, 
and warned them that the republic had the king's 

At the same time the king was represented as taking 
a paternal interest in their welfare, whilst the republic 
was prepared to make all reasonable concessions. He 
asked them to name deputies to negotiate at Bastia, 
with the French general as mediator. Giafferi 
promised to send the deputies, but sustained the rights 
of Corsican nationality. The cardinal replied with a 
threat — 'The king will be sorry to give up the part 
of a peacemaker in order to become your enemy.' 

Thus the summer was consumed in negotiations, 

and in October a hastily drafted edict arrived, which 

was supposed to settle the whole matter. It contained 

amnesty for past offences, remission of taxes, now 



hopelessly in arrear, and the abolition ot arbitrary con- 
demnation and pardon by the Genoese governors.* 
But the reservation of the Genoese sovereignty, and 
a clause ordering a general confiscation of arms, 
constituted a fatal bar to all hope of accommodation. 

Besides the clauses enumerated above, it wa.s also 
stipulated that additions might be made to the de- 
cree, if they were recognised <as being for the good of 
the country. The deputies, w^ho had assembled at 
Bastia, took advantage of this last clause to demand 
the recognition of a Corsican national organisation, 
which had almost nullified the suzerain rights of 

They also demanded the right to maintain a 
permanent representative to deal directly with the 
French government. Of these demands, which aimed 
at the practical abolition of Genoese sovereignty, no 
notice seems to have been taken. 

The guarantee of the King of France, from which 
the Corsicans hoped so much, was now employed 
by Genoa to enforce the disarmament of the nation. 
Boissieux gave the Corsicans fifteen days' grace, and 
they were informed that their acceptance of the con- 
ditions offered was taken for granted, and that they 
would be disarmed by force unless they submitted. 
Deputies from various parts assembled at Orezza, and 
resolved to die with arms in their hands rather than 
submit. They issued a manifesto to this effect, and 
defied all their enemies. 

In some districts it seemed likely that the arms 

* The power of Genoese magistrates to pardon offences, or to let the 
offenders go free, without trial, was almost a worse abuse of justice than 
the oppression exercised at various times. (&e ch. vii.) 



would be surrendered quietly, but the event did not 
always justify this expectation. A detachment of four 
hundred men being sent to Borgo to disarm the popula- 
tion of the district, the people rose and shut the troops 
up in the village. Boissieux marched to the rescue with 
two thousand men, but was defeated and driven back 
to Bastia. Other detachments were cut up about the 
same time (winter of 1738-39), and the term ' Corsican 
Vespers ' sufficiently shows the feeling which animated 
the nation. 

These losses were partly revenged by the French 
commander, who caused some of his troops to imitate 
the costume of the Corsicans. The latter, deceived 
by the dress of their enemies, lost heavily in various 

Now ensued disagreements between the French a.d. 1739. 
and Genoese authorities, and Boissieux was accused of 
' partiality towards the rebels ; ' whilst, as if further to 
discourage him, ships bearing reinforcements from 
France went ashore near the mouth of the river 
Ostricone early in 1739, and the troops were sur- 
rounded and taken prisoners. Paoli had the good 
sense and humanity to treat them with kindness ; 
but Boissieux,. already fatigued by his campaign, and 
dispirited by his want of success and the constant 
disputes with the Genoese officers, sank under this 
last misfortune and died (February 1739). 

The deputies at Bastia now dispersed, and the 
whole country was in confusion. Paoli and Giafferi 
published a letter to the hostages at Marseilles, blaming 
the Genoese for the recommencement of hostilities. 
They wrote with respect of the King of France, 
whose wishes, they declared, had not yet been made 


known. In the meantime they upheld their right 
to oppose the forcible imposition of the Genoese 

But Paoli had promised to cause the province of 
Balagna to submit, and he carried out his promise, 
finding means, however, to absent himself from the 
ceremony. He also caused letters to be written 
to the other chiefs, advising them to delay their 
submission, telling them that an amnesty had 
been arranged for, and there would always be time 
to profit by it. Only in Balagna were the arms 

The Marquis de Maillebois arrived, in March, to 
take command of the French troops. He brought 
with him considerable reinforcements, and had under 
his command sixteen battalions of infantry, besides 
some irregular troops and artillery. Finding that 
he must overawe the people before he could grant 
concessions, he acted with vigour and rapidity. His 
columns forced their way into the heart of the country 
and destroyed the crops, burning the villages and 
even cutting down vines and olives. But the French 
general, while acting with severity against his oppon- 
ents, was far from really wishing to injure the Cor- 
sicans. He published everywhere the terms on which 
peace could be obtained ; and was always willing 
to act in concert with the leaders of the people 
when they agreed to his terms, in spite of the 
efforts of Mari, the Genoese governor, who tried to 
persuade him to put no faith in their professions of 

Maillebois soon saw for himself that the magistrates 
placed in power by Genoa had no real influence, and 
1 06 


that he must have recourse to the natural chiefs of 
the people if he wished to ensure tranquillity. 

In the course of the year 1739 it became evident 
that the French commander's policy of vigour and 
conciliation must prevail, and the campaign ended 
in the Corsicans laying down their arms. About a 
thousand of the weapons surrendered had the Genoese 
government mark on them, and the republic demanded 
their restoration. 

In July GiafFeri and Paoli retired to Naples, where 
they were given military rank in the king's service, 
the latter being appointed to the command of a regi- 
ment of cavalry. 

The nation being thus reduced to submission by a 
French army, the senate of Genoa proceeded to 
consider how to maintain order, and made various 
proposals to Maillebois, of which that officer took 
very little notice. ' Amongst other barbarous schemes, 
one was to transport a considerable number of the 
inhabitants and make them over to the King of 
France, to people his distant colonies.' (Boswell, 
ch. ii.) The French general, however, raised a 
Corsican regiment for service in the French army, a 
kind of exile which was by no means disliked by the 

The general desired peace and happiness for the 
island and people. Mari regarded those who had 
submitted as disguised rebels, and endeavoured to 
exclude them from the markets at Eastia, while his 
general treatment of the unfortunate people drew 
from Maillebois a grave and dignified rebuke. He 
pointed out that if the Genoese regarded the Corsicans 
as their subjects, they should give them the assistance 


which they required for their subsistence — ' Et vous 
devez en ministre sage faire Timpossible pour y 
parvenir.' But if Genoa desired to destroy the nation, 
the king's troops could not be used for any such 
purpose. {See Vincens, Bk. XII., ch. iv.) He 
endeavoured to bring the republic to establish an 
equitable rule, under which Genoese sovereignty 
should harmonise with the rights of the subject nation, 
and permit of the effectual exercise of the French 
guarantee. For this purpose he considered it essential 
that the French should occupy some of the seaports. 

In 1 740 the French Court informed the Senate that, 
the war being at an end, the king was disposed to 
withdraw his troops. Now, the treaty under which 
France had sent troops to Corsica also bound her to 
protect the Continental possessions of Genoa until the 
end of the Corsican war. Moreover, the senators of 
Genoa were sufficiently well aware that the obedience 
of the Corsicans depended upon the presence of the 
French. They therefore hastened to reply that they 
were not sure if the submission and disarmament had 
been really completed, and added, that the departure 
of the troops might lead the islanders to believe that 
the period of the king's guarantee had expired, and 
was no longer binding upon them. They therefore 
hoped to retain at least a part of the army under 

France offered six battalions : these troops to hold 
Ajaccio, Calvi and the road between those cities, 
which the king should fortify and strengthen as he 
thought fit. These conditions alarmed Genoa, and 
led to more discussion. The death of the Emperor 
Charles VI. (October 1740) occurred before anything 


was settled. The imminence of a Continental war 
made it imperative to recall the troops to France. 
They were recalled, and the Genoese and Corsicans 
left to themselves. 




D. 1741-46. The withdrawal of the French army left Genoa face 
to face with a nation ready to snatch at any excuse 
for renewing the struggle, whilst her own garrison in 
the island was too small to maintain authority. The 
Genoese nobility had almost ceased to be either 
soldiers or sailors, and the troops of the republic 
were both few in number and ill commanded. The 
wealth which had once been disseminated amongst 
the citizens was now in the hands of a few families, 
who relied on money rather than on arms for their 
influence and safety. To many of the ruling class 
Corsica seemed merely a burden, and to sell it, or 
even give it away, was regarded as the wisest 
course. But there was still some pride in the city 
of palaces, and its rulers had to make some effort 
to retain their 'kingdom.' A small reinforcement 
was sent to the governor of Corsica, but not enough 
to enable him to act with any vigour in case of 



The peace now enjoyed in the island was properly 
attributed to France, and the thanks of the Senate 
and government were conveyed to the king. But at 
Genoa itself men said that France had taken their 
money and done nothing to earn it. 

At Bastia, Mari, glad to be free from the control 
of his protectors, set to work to recover his former 
power. Against such as had not submitted new 
severities were proclaimed ; but so long as they kept 
to the hill country his proclamations could do them 
little harm. The French ' guarantee ' was soon 
forgotten, and the people were invited to send 
deputies to swear allegiance to Genoa ; but nobody 
came. Then the governor called together some 
syndics, or other officers, to the number of eighteen ; 
and under the title of ' nobility of this side and the 
other side of the mountains,' pretended to regard 
them as the legal representatives of the nation, 
and undertook to forward their demands to the 

But the omission of the magic word ' guarantee ' 
led to the disavowal of the eighteen by their com- 
patriots, whilst the Senate took no notice of their 
petitions. Mari was succeeded by Domenico Spinola, 
who attempted to revive the tax of the ' due seini,' 
with the natural result. Meetings were held, several 
of the exiled chiefs showed themselves again, and 
a furious revolt broke out, but was for a time 
appeased, and comparative tranquillity existed until 


The attempted landing of King Theodore in this a.d. 1743. 

year {see ch. ix.), although productive of no good 

results to himself, was, nevertheless, very alarming to 



the Genoese, who would gladly have parted with 
their embarrassing dependency. But in the general 
confusion prevailing all over Europe they could find 
no means to further their interests, no power willing 
to either purchase or exchange territory. Mari re- 
appeared in Corsica, and contrived to bring together 
a kind of national assembly, apparently docile, but 
really opportunist. 

Some of the Corsican leaders were not without 
private cause of hatred to Genoa. The house of 
Dr Gaffori, at Corte, was attacked by a party of 
Genoese during his absence, with the design of 
capturing his wife. She, however, with the assist- 
ance of some friends, protected herself until her 
husband arrived, with a band of Corsicans, and 
rescued her.* 

This man now came to the front, and for some 
years was the real leader of the nation. 

Another leader. Count Domenico Rivarola, had 
forfeited an estate in the territory of Genoa, on the 
mainland, for his fidelity to Corsica, and had ex- 
perienced in his own family a proof of ' the mildness 
and love with which the republic of Genoa governs 
her people ' (^see a memorial quoted by Boswell, 
ch. ii.). He had been for a time the Genoese 
commissary in Balagna, but had retired to Leghorn, 
in despair of mitigating the evil government around 
him. His two sons, crossing from Corsica to the 
mainland, fell into the power of the Genoese, who 
threw them into prison, and made their father's 
submission the price of their release. He preferred 
his country's interests to those of his family and 

* See Gregorovius, Bk. VIII., ch. ii. 


refused, but had the felicity of afterwards recovering 
the boys in safety. 

In 1745 it was declared that no oath of allegiance, a.d. 1745. 
other than that to King Theodore, was binding on 
a Corsican, although, as a matter of fact, there was 
no hope whatever of the exiled king regaining his 
crown. GafFori, perhaps, was still secretly loyal to 

Corte was occupied by a Genoese garrison, and 
GafFori laid siege to it. His son, a child, wandered 
from the camp and was taken prisoner. The 
Genoese commander, to intimidate the besiegers, had 
the child tied to the wall, where the firing from his 
father's army endangered his life. The fire was 
silenced, but GafFori himself ordered his gunners 
to recommence. A breach was made, the citadel 
stormed, and the boy remained uninjured.* 

The taking of Corte by GafFori was soon followed 
by his appointment, together with Venturini and 
Matra, as ' protectors of the kingdom,' a title to 
which GafFori certainly had good right, but Matra 
was much suspected of being a secret adherent of 

In 1746 Rivarola, now in the Sardinian service, 1746- 
made an attempt, under the flag of that power, to 
drive out the Genoese garrisons. His expedition was 
a small one, only from two to three hundred men, 
but he had the help of British ships, and counted 
on the support of the people in any attack on the 
Genoese. In the name of the King of Sardinia he 
seized Bastia, the defences of that place being unable 

* Boswell states that he heard this story from the younger GafFori 



to hold out against the British fire. A section of 
the Corsicans, grateful for his aid, proclaimed him 
general of the nation ; but neither GafFori nor Matra 
took part in this proceeding, which they viewed 
with small satisfaction. 

An assembly was held at Bastia, but the unani- 
mity expected by Rivarola was not apparent. The 
meeting, in fact, broke up in disorder, which nearly 
culminated in bloodshed. Bastia was the least likely 
place in Corsica for revolution. It had been for 
many generations the seat of the Genoese government 
in the island, and many of the inhabitants were in- 
clined to prefer Genoa to Sardinia — a monarchy which 
indeed took its name from an island which had as yet 
derived but little benefit from the House of Savoy. 

It could scarcely be expected that the British 
commander would venture much in a country where 
he found such dissension amongst the national leaders, 
and ere long Rivarola was left to fight his own 
battles. As soon as the English left he found Bastia 
untenable, and retired to San Fiorenzo. GafFori 
and Matra came to terms with their rival, and there 
still seemed some chance of success, especially as 
the inhabitants of Bastia decided to hold that city 
themselves and keep out the Genoese. But Mari 
overawed them, and persuaded them not only to 
submit, but also to surrender a large number of 
Rivarola's supporters. We must not forget that in 
1746 the city of Genoa was actually occupied by 
Austrian troops, and the Bank of St George all but 
ruined. The Genoese at last drove out the invaders ; 
but their whole energy was needed at home, and they 
were in no condition to help their officers in Corsica. 


The latter certainly seem entitled to some credit for 
retaining any hold on the island at all. 

GafFori is said to have been among the prisoners 
taken by Mari, who sent them, over fifty in number, 
to Genoa, where ten were executed, in spite of the 
fact that their safety had been guaranteed at the time 
of their surrender. GafFori himself escaped, and appears 
to have soon managed to return home. 

The patriots now realised their mistake in not 
having secured British aid when it was available, and 
sent envoys to Lord Bristol, then ambassador at 
Turin, to request the protection of England. Riva- 
rola was one of these envoys, and waited with his 
colleague until an answer came from England. The 
reply was disappointing, amounting, in fact, to a 
polite refusal, ' hoping the Corsicans would preserve 
the same obliging sentiments' (Boswell, ch. ii.), but 
declining to enter into a treaty. 

Count Rivarola remained at Turin, and in 1748 
Matra quitted Corsica, leaving GafFori undisputed 
master of the island. 

Meanwhile at Genoa all eyes turned again to 
France for help ; but nothing was done. Finally, 
it was decided to attempt nothing until a general 
peace was signed, when it was hoped that both 
France and Spain would assist in the subjugation 
of Corsica. 

Thus GafFori gradually attained to supreme power, a.d. 1748. 
if such it could be called, in a country torn from end 
to end by rival factions and families, whose private 
vendetta sometimes obscured their views of national 

One more attempt was made by Rivarola, who, in 



1 748, again took Bastia ; but Richelieu, who com- 
manded the French troops at Genoa, sent a small 
force and drove him out again. It was discovered 
that Rivarola's expedition was in the nature of an 
advanced guard. The King of Sardinia was preparing 
a force of four thousand men to reduce the island. The 
Senate, at last really frightened, besought Richelieu 
to send more troops to Corsica, and he sent garri- 
sons to Calvi, Bonifacio, Ajaccio and Bastia, the 
whole force being under command of General de 

The Sardinian expedition actually started, but was 

Rivarola died at Turin in April 1748, having to 
the last done his best for his country. 

When peace was restored to Europe, at Aix-la- 
Chapelle in 1748, several places in Northern Italy 
fell to the share of the King of Sardinia, from 
whom no further aid could now be expected by the 
Corsicans, as it was not to his interest to risk a dis- 
pute with France. The peace had also guaranteed 
to Genoa all her former possessions, and no foreign 
enemy being likely to attack Corsica, there seemed 
no need to keep the French troops in the island any 
longer. But a sudden evacuation of the places held 
by France would cause the risk of these places falling 
into the hands of the Corsicans, who, under GafFori's 
able leadership, would be prompt to take so good an 
opportunity of getting command of the most im- 
portant seaports in the island. It was therefore 
decided that Cursay and his troops should remain 
until the republic could arrange for the occupation 
of the ports by Genoese garrisons. 


Under Louis XV. magnanimity in foreign policy 
was fashionable, and in 1748 France did not covet 
Corsica, but at the same time it is certain that she 
intended no other power to take the island. It was 
therefore desirable that Genoa should retain her pro- 
perty, and even be assisted in doing so ; and to this 
end it was necessary to bring about some fair arrange- 
ment between the islanders and their nominal rulers. 
The former could hardly be brought to any accom- 
modation, and the latter scarce knew what they 
wanted themselves. Genoa, in the distress caused 
by the Continental war, had been assisted with 
money by France since 1746. If France now with- 
drew her troops she might also withdraw her sub- 
sidies. The Genoese officers in Corsica would have 
risked everything to deliver themselves from French 
control, while the Senate well knew that without 
French aid all was lost. Thus the diiFerent parties 
in the republic, the French Court, its representatives 
at Genoa and its generals in Corsica, besides the 
various factions in the island, all held diiFerent views 
and worked for diiFerent objects. 

General de Cursay and GaiFori, however, came to a. d. 1749-50. 
an understanding, and between them brought the 
patriots to promise obedience to the King of France. 
Two great meetings were held. At the first, called 
by GaiFori, it was decided that the destinies of the 
nation should be entrusted to the king ; at the second, 
for which Cursay was responsible, the deputies swore 
submission to the king's wishes. 

Chauvelin had succeeded Richelieu at Genoa as the 
French commander and envoy. Both he and his pre- 
decessor would have preferred open annexation, but 



that being out of the question they insisted upon the 
obligation of France keeping a military force in the 
island. and holding the coast fortresses, without which 
it would be impossible to ensure compliance with the 
wishes of the French government. 

The French ministry hoped to make some arrange- 
ment which should give the Corsicans reasonable 
liberty, and, moreover, saw that it would be well to 
get the regular assent of the nation, through properly 
elected delegates, to whatever regulations were made. 
This was opposed by the senators of Genoa, who 
desired that the republic should give an order and 
the Corsicans obey it. 
1751. At last, in 1751, it was arranged that a treaty, or 
rather a document containing regulations for the 
administration of government, should be first sub- 
mitted to the Senate, and then to the Corsican 
assembly, the latter being invited to give the national 
assent to its provisions. This done, the Genoese 
governor was to publish the new regulations under 
the form of an edict issued by the republic. The 
regulations allowed the Corsicans more privileges than 
they had hitherto possessed, and their nationality 
was recognised. France gave more subsidies to 
Genoa, and the occupation was to terminate when 
the Senate should so desire. Meanwhile the French 
held Calvi. 

The recognition of their nationality was in itself 
enough to satisfy the Corsicans, and General de 
Cursay convened an assembly which was quite will- 
ing to consent to whatever he wished. He, assured 
of his own power in the island, was with difficulty 
restrained from publishing the regulations on his own 


authority, without waiting for the Genoese decree on 
the subject. 

For a time all appeared to be going on smoothly, a.d. 1752. 
but soon new 'incidents' took place. Cursay pub- 
lished orders in his own name ; and, on his own 
authority, took measures against villages which did 
not submit to the regulations. 

At San Fiorenzo there was a mixed garrison of 
French and Genoese troops. Suddenly the latter 
were expelled. Cursay excused himself by saying 
that he had given no orders, except in concert with 
GafFori, an excuse which only further incensed the 

The Corsicans were simply waiting for the French 
to leave in order to seize all the coast towns, if 
possible ; and in this instance GafFori had taken his 
measures in advance, and got rid of the Genoese 

Accusations were made against Cursay, who was 
charged with seeking the crown of Corsica for him- 
self. Whether this charge was, or was not, believed 
by the French Court cannot be known, but he was 
sent for to Paris. Arrested on his journey, by the 
king's order, he was imprisoned. Later on he was 
released, and employed elsewhere ; but his departure 
from Corsica, where he was very popular, was the 
signal for a fresh outbreak of war. The people rose en 
masse, a parliament assembled at Orezza, and GafFori 
was appointed general and governor of the country. 

In the general confusion the officers of the republic 

thought they saw their opportunity. It became clear 

that the new regulations could not be obeyed. The 

French troops were subjected to annoyance, even to 



insult, by the Genoese governor, and the king decided 
to withdraw them, but consented to pay the subsidy 
already promised. The Senate, now able to send 
troops, agreed to this arrangement, and demanded a 
prompt evacuation of the ports. 

As the French troops quitted the coast towns, 
Genoese detachments, brought by sea, entered them ; 
but they had no power in the interior, and could 
scarcely keep open communications between the places 
they actually held. 

The chiefe of the nation, united under GrafFori, 
swore to have no dealings with their old enemies 
the Genoese ; and Grimaldi, now the represen- 
tative of the republic, despaired of defeating the 
A.D. 1753. But the dreadful power of the vendetta came to his 
assistance. GafFori was involved in a vendetta, and 
his own brother (Anton-Francesco) was persuaded to 
betray him. In October 1753 the Corsican chief 
was surprised and murdered. Some of the assassins 
escaped, but Anton-Francesco was taken and put to 
death, it is said, in the presence of his brother's 

Amongst Gaffori's supporters was a son of Giacinto 

Paoli, who was held in great respect. This man, 

■ Clement Paoli, was distinguished for his courage, and, 

after the death of the general, he became one of the 

principal chiefs of the nation ; but the peculiar bent 

of his disposition, severely religious and very studious, 

taciturn and a lover of solitude, made him unfit to 

take the lead for any length of time. 

1754. GafFori had selected fit men for his lieutenants ; 

and Clement Paoli, with the aid of Dr Grimaldi, 



Santucci, Frediani, and some more of the late general's . 
friends, was able for some time to carry on the govern- 
ment and keep the Genoese at arm's length. It was 
pronounced a crime worthy of death to even propose 
to negotiate ; and the Corsicans were united in hatred 
of their old oppressors and a passionate desire for 
independence, but, unfortunately, were not united 
amongst themselves. 

The Genoese had no power outside their fortresses, 
but were known to be preparing for another effort. 
The nation was torn to pieces by faction and vendetta ; 
the laws were scarcely administered at all ; agriculture, 
trade and science were neglected ; in fact, all was in 

The old family of Matra, formerly 'caporali,' and 
now strongly suspected of sympathy with Genoa, had 
a strong party. The head of this family, Emanuele 
Matra, a relation of GafFori's former colleague, was 
a soldier of some experience, and it was thought that 
he aimed at acquiring the office of general of the 

An oligarchy had never been successful in Corsica ; 
one leader, with competent lieutenants, had always 
proved more capable of uniting the nation. This one 
man, Clement Paoli said he could provide ; and he 
brought over his colleagues to share his opinion, in 
spite of his nominee being his own brother, and having 
for many years past lived at Naples. But the nation 
both respected and loved the Paoli — a family which 
had already done and suffered much for liberty. Old 
Giacinto approved the national choice, and overcame 
the young man's hesitation to undertake so great a 
task as he foresaw would be his ; and, in April 1755, a.d. 1755. 


the illustrious Pascal Paoli bade farewell to his father, 
and embarked on a career of noble endeavour more 
admirable than that of the proudest of conquerors or 




Pascal Paoli was about thirty years of age when he 
was called to the leadership of the nation. Born in 
the pieve of Rostino, his boyhood was spent in 
Corsica ; at the age of fourteen he went into exile 
with his father at Naples, where his education was 
completed. Giacinto Paoli, being a colonel of 
cavalry in the Neapolitan service, his son obtained a 
commission in his regiment ; and when he was 
summoned to Corsica, he had obtained the rank of 
captain and had seen some service in Calabria. 

In April 1755 he landed at Aleria ; and having a.d. 1755. 
been elected deputy for his native place, Rostino, he 
attended an assembly at San Antonio della Casablanca, 
and was at once appointed general of the nation. 

For this honour he was, of course, prepared and had 
come to undertake the oiEce. His brother and the 
other chiefs had arranged for his appointment, which 
may have been a kind of compromise to allay the 
jealousy of the various claimants for the supreme 
power. When he appeared before the assembled 
deputies, his manner, quiet and dignified, combined 
with his eloquence and good looks, quickly decided 
them in favour of the son and brother of two of their 


favourite heroes. In July he assumed office, and at 
once found himself compelled to take up arms to 
vindicate his authority. 

Emanuele Matra, whose ambition and powder have 

already been mentioned, refused to submit to the 

new^ly-appointed general, against w^hom he openly 

declared, w^ith the support of numerous adherents. 

Paoli, desirous of avoiding a civil war, proposed 

a suspension of hostilities, in order that the rival 

claims of himself and Matra might be decided by the 

popular vote. The later refused, relying on his 

military talent and experience, and counting also on 

'755-56- Genoese support. After some encounters Matra was 

forced to submit, but again took the field early in 

1756 and surprised the general in a disadvantageous 

position. Paoli was obliged to take refuge, with a 

kw followers, in a convent near Alando, which he 

hastily fortified. Fortunately his brother had heard 

of his danger and was actively gathering friends for 

a rescue. An unexpected ally was also found. In 

the neighbourhood lived the family of Cervoni, 

between whom and the Paoli there was a vendetta. 

But Thomas Cervoni was persuaded by his mother to 

forget the quarrel and assist the general chosen by 

the nation. He joined his forces to those already 

raised by Clement Paoli, and together they advanced 

against Matra, sounding the conch * as they went to 

apprise the garrison of their approach. Matra had 

already set fire to the doors of the convent when 

they arrived. The besiegers, taken between two 

* Conch, a large triton shell, pierced at one end, at that time the 
only military musical instrument used in Corsica. See Boswell, Account 
of Corsica ; and Valery, Liv. I., ch. xliv. 



fires, were put to flight, leaving many dead on the 
field. Matra, wounded in the leg, fought on till a 
ball, fired by Cervoni, killed him. Pascal Paoli could 
respect a brave enemy, and openly regretted the loss 
of a good soldier, whose arms might have well served 
his country ; but when he turned to thank his rescuer, 
Cervoni had already gone. To serve Corsica he had 
saved her first citizen, but his hatred to the Paoli 
was unappeased ; he would have none of their 

Genoa was now almost helpless. Swiss and a.d. 1756. 
German troops were hired to supplement those of 
the republic, and on one occasion they attacked 
Paoli's headquarters at Furiani, near Bastia, but 
without success. These mercenary troops deserted 
to Paoli in great numbers, and, but for the want of 
artillery, he might have taken the coast fortresses. 
At Genoa it was thought that the money with which 
he paid the deserters from their troops came from 

The naval operations in the Mediterranean which 
eventually led to England losing Minorca, gave 
France a renewed interest to Corsica, owing to the 
supposed understanding between England and Paoli. 
Genoa had been subsidised by France to enable her 
to hold the island, and now France insisted on 
employing troops to defend it ; and engineers were 
sent to inspect the fortifications, a measure which 
gave great offence to Genoa. Paoli openly an- 
nounced the approach of an English fleet, and boasted 
that a month would suffice for the expulsion of the 
Genoese frorh Corsica ; but, in spite of this, the 

* See Vie et Memoires du General Dumouriez, Vol. I., note. 


republic declared that the matter was not pressing, 
and that it would be time enough to call for French 
assistance when the English really appeared. But the 
king threatened to take the initiative himself, unless 
the republic promptly asked him to send troops to the 

Sorba, the Genoese charge cC affaires in France, had 
lived long enough in that country to understand 
French policy, and he saw that some agreement must 
be arrived at. It was therefore settled that French 
troops should occupy Calvi, Ajaccio and San Fiorenzo. 
The republic desired to share in the occupation of 
these cities, but on this point Sorba had to give way. 
However, it was arranged that the French commanders 
should 'have no dealings with Paoli and his adherents, 
who were not to be allowed access to the places 
occupied by France. 

Three thousand men, under the Marquis de Castries, 
accordingly occupied the three cities as arranged. Al- 
though they were to have no dealings with Paoli, he, 
nevertheless, declared that he saw their arrival with 
pleasure, as their presence would assist him in re- 
storing order throughout the country. Count de 
Vaux soon replaced De Castries, and there were some 
collisions between the French and the Corsicans, but 
Paoli contrived to restore harmony.* De Vaux 
A.D. 1756-57. admitted Corsicans into the places occupied by his 
troops, under pretence of raising a regiment of 
cavalry in the island ; a proceeding which gave great 
umbrage to the Genoese authorities, who were also 

* Vincens (Bk. XII., ch. v.) gives this account of De Vaux in Corsica. 
Sismondi does not mention him at all, merely saying that the French 
remained neutral, and retired after two years (ch. Iv.). 



ofFended at his assembling the notables of a province 
to ascertain if he could depend upon their assistance 
in case of an attack being made by the English. 

But Admiral de la Galissoniere had frightened the 
British fleet away in May 1756, and the English 
made no attempt on Corsica. The French admiral 
had thus justified the republic in objecting to the 
occupation, and it is doubtful whether, with the 
small body of troops under his command, De Vaux 
could have successfully resisted a disembarkation, sup- 
ported by the guns of a fleet, if the English really 
had attempted a landing. 

Ere long De Vaux and his troops were required on 
the Continent, so the French garrisons were with- 
drawn ; and the republic, having previously objected 
to their coming, now complained that they had been 
taken away without warning. But the true ground 
of complaint was the withdrawal of the subsidy, 
hitherto paid by France to enable Genoa to retain 
her grasp on the island. 

Paoli was not slow to take advantage of the weak- a.d. 1758. 
ness of his enemies, and, in 1758, he laid siege to 
Rogliano in Cap-Corse, and blockaded Bastia, having 
at his disposal an army of near five thousand men for 
these operations. 

In the meantime he had again been troubled by the 
Matra family, a brother of his former antagonist 
having rebelled against him. But the rising was 
quickly suppressed, and the general more powerful 
than ever ; in fact, his power was all but absolute, 
although he always respected the form of government 
of which he was himself, to a great extent, the 



A.D. 1755-67. The Corsican ruler was naturally obliged to be a 
soldier, but it is in Paoli's internal administration, and 
the perseverance with which he strove to improve the 
constitution and foster the well-being of the nation he 
ruled, that we find his real title to greatness. 

When he arrived in Corsica, in 1755, he found the 
country in the utmost disorder, principally owing to 
the fact that justice was scarcely administered at all, 
and the only check on evil-doers was the vendetta. 
His first efforts were directed against this terrible 
scourge, which was costing the nation several hundred 
lives every year. He sent priests to preach forgiveness 
throughout the land, and himself travelled far and 
wide, labouring to reconcile families at enmity with 
each other. At the same time severe penalties were 
enforced for homicide, especially in cases where, as 
was not uncommon, a man, failing to kill his enemy, 
satisfied the requirements of the vendetta by killing 
one of his foe's relations. In such cases it was enacted 
that the penalty should be, not merely death, but 
infamy, a pillar being erected to mark the spot of the 
crime and record the disgrace of the murderer. 

A vendetta was sometimes terminated by the 
intervention of mutual friends, or arbitrators, who 
were known as 'parolanti.' 

An agreement made and sworn to in their pres- 
ence was regarded as peculiarly sacred, and such an 
oath was seldom violated. Under Paoli's govern- 
ment the 'pillar of infamy' was awarded to those 
who renewed a vendetta after taking the oath of re- 

One of the first victims of the new severity of the 
laws was one of the general's own relations, who, 


having committed a murder in the course of a 
vendetta, was arrested and executed. The firm and 
impartial administration of justice, combined w^ith the 
general's persuasive eloquence, gradually convinced the 
Corsicans that private revenge was neither the only 
nor the best means of protecting their honour or 
property. Paoli did not eradicate the evil entirely, 
but he , mitigated it to a very great extent. It is 
stated that in a few years the population was increased 
by many thousands, in spite of the numbers killed in 
action, and this increase is attributed mainly to the 
suppression of the vendetta.* 

In his measures against the vendetta Paoli did not 
really institute new penalties. The ' pillar of infamy ' 
was known before his day as the suitable punishment 
for disgraceful conduct ; but he branded as disgraceful 
deeds which had often not been recognised as such, 
thereby enlisting the point of honour on the side of 
law and order. 

The Corsican bishops, whose duties lay in the 
island, and whose revenues were drawn from it, were 
all in the Genoese interest, and thoroughly opposed to 
the independence of the nation. For many years they 
had been absent from their posts, and the government 
determined to recall them. But they refused to 
return, although promised protection by Paoli. On 
this he appHed to the Pope, complaining that the 
Corsican bishops had abandoned their flocks, and 
praying him to intervene. The Pope at once 
admitted the justice of his complaint, and sent 
Crescentio de Angelis, Bishop of Segni, as apostolic 
visitor, with authority to inquire into the abuse 

* Boswell, Account of Corsica, ch. ii. 


complained of, and apply whatever remedy he thought 

This measure, which both recognised the inde- 
pendence of the Corsican government, and entirely 
ignored the Genoese sovereignty, gave great oiFence 
at Genoa. Protesting the deepest devotion to the 
Pope, the Senate also protested against his making any 
provision for the spiritual welfare of the Corsicans 
without leave from Genoa. But this protest was not 
listened to, and the bishop was sent in spite of it. 
The Genoese, by proclamation, forbade his entry into 
Corsica, and refused permission for him to exercise his 
ecclesiastical functions in their territories. Moreover, 
they offered a reward for his apprehension, and sent 
ships to intercept him. These ships were wrecked 
off Bastia, and the bishop landed in safety (April 
1760). The Pope annulled the proclamation issued 
by the Genoese, whereupon they replied by publicly 
tearing up his edict. It almost seemed as though the 
republic would be put under an interdict, but this 
remedy had been tried before without much success, 
and the Pope refrained. His object indeed had been 
gained, in spite of the wrath of Genoa ; the Bishop of 
Segni having been received with great joy in Corsica, 
where he soon obtained much influence, while the 
insulting proclamation of the republic had been burnt 
by the common hangman at Corte. 

The Corsican bishops lost their sees, and Paoli at 
once sequestrated their revenues. The people were 
somewhat alarmed at this seizure of Church property, 
but the general, while admitting that the altar should 
nourish its ministers, pointed out that the tithes of 
those who fail to serve the altar are the property 


of the poor. This reasoning satisfied the public 
conscience, and the government thus came into 
possession of a goodly portion of the tithes. But both 
Pascal and Clement Paoli were religious men, and 
the Church did not suffer in reality, only the 
revenues of the absentee bishops and of sinecures 
being forfeited. The numerous convents still existed, 
and the parish priests were strong supporters of the 
government. Both priests and friars were always to 
be found on the side of the patriots. Of nuns 
there were but few, the women of Corsica being 
perhaps more industrious, or less religious, than the 

The reproach of idleness has often been brought 
against the Corsicans ; but with greater security for 
life and property there came also more inclination 
for work. The difficulty of obtaining supplies from 
abroad made it imperative that sufficient food should 
be raised at home, and under Paoli's government 
agriculture and commerce revived. 

In 1758, with the help of the Arena, Blasini and 
Savelli families, he founded the port of Isola Rossa, 
which he hoped to make the rival of Algajola, 
whose citizens were devoted to Genoa.* The new 
town prospered, and attracted many from the moun- 
tains to the sea, and in time became the head- 
quarters of the Corsican fleet, which, though small, 
increased the risks of Genoese merchants. The old 
accusation of piracy could scarcely be brought 
against the Corsicans, who claimed independence, 

* Isola Rossa is mentioned before this period. Presumably Paoli 
enlarged and improved the harbour, and made it a place of more import- 
ance than it had been hitherto. 


and were openly at war with Genoa ; but no doubt 
there was a good deal of privateering, and the crew 
of a Genoese vessel might well fear the Corsican 

Commerce was assisted by the humanity and 
liberality of the general. A Tunisian ship having 
been wrecked on the coast, the peasantry of the 
neighbourhood seized the cargo, but Paoli caused 
it to be restored, and sent the shipwrecked crew 
home in charge of officers selected for the purpose. 
This unexpected kindness was suitably acknowledged 
by the Bey of Tunis, who sent an embassy to thank 
the ruler of Corsica, and to assure him that in his 
dominions all Corsicans should be made welcome. 
This led to the opening of the north coast of Africa 
to Corsican traders. 

They could fight as well as trade. In 1767, a 
small Corsican ship being pursued by a Turkish 
galley, the crew, rather than surrender, boarded the 
Turk, and fought with great courage. When 
almost overcome by numbers, they were rescued 
by a Maltese galley, the Turks were defeated and 
their ship captured. 

A knight of Malta, Count de Perez (or Peres), 
was entrusted with the command of the Corsican 
fleet, and the few towns on the , coast still in the 
hands of Genoa were closely blockaded, while their 
inhabitants came to envy the prosperity of the 
patriots, whom they had formerly despised as rebels. 

The old nobility of Corsica had been in possession 

of many feudal rights and privileges, which had 

never been abolished by law. In the part of the 

country known as the Terra del Commune the 



feudal nobles had long since lost their power, but 
in Cap-Corse, and in the south (di La dei Monti), 
although the policy of Genoa had been to weaken 
them, and their old castles were mostly in ruins, 
they still retained many of their ancient rights. 
Their influence, indeed, was so great, and their use 
of it, in some cases, so bad, that Boswell mentions 
a Corsican who told him ' that supposing the republic 
had abandoned its pretensions over Corsica, so that 
the peasants should not have been obliged to rise 
against the Genoese, they would have risen against 
the signers.' * 

During the long war with Genoa the nobles had 
found their power slipping away from them. The 
war had originally broken out in a part of the 
country where they had no jurisdiction, and for a 
time they do not appear to have openly joined the 
national cause, although they certainly were sup- 
porters of the unfortunate King Theodore. Under 
Paoli's firm government the country was free from 
internal warfare, and the peasants of the south were 
by no means willing to submit to the old feudal 
jurisdiction. But the signori made several applica- 
tions for the restoration of what they conceived to 
be their rights ; and upon Paoli fell the task of 
arranging matters so that the people should retain 
their hard won freedom, whilst the landowners, many 
of whom were wealthy and influential, should not 
be made discontented under his rule. 

A compromise was arrived at, whereby the noble- 
men of a province were exempted from appearing 
before the provincial tribunals, and, upon their own 

* Boswell, Account of Corsica, ch. iii. 


fiefs, were given the power to determine causes 
between the peasants. But they were responsible, 
both personally and for their administration of 
justice, to the supreme council and to the Court of 
Syndicate. They thus discharged the duties of 
several communal and provincial oflSces without cost 
to the state, and, being subject to the higher 
authorities, they were restricted from any great abuse 
of their powers.* 

Local government was organised on the old plan 
of Terra del Commune, omitting the caporali. In 
each village annual elections were held to choose a 
podesta and two 'padri del commune,' all three 
being re-eligible. These three together were em- 
powered to judge small civil cases, the podesta 
by himself deciding those cases in which the sum 
in dispute did not exceed ten livres (say ten 

For more important suits the provincial courts, 
also elected annually, were the tribunals + ; and from 
them appeal was allowed to the Rota Civile, a court 
composed of three judges appointed by the supreme 

In criminal cases the court was always assisted 
by a jury of six, whose verdict was given on the 

* A Corsican gentleman once observed to me that there evidently had 
never been a noble class in Corsica, recognised as such ; and yet I 
noticed that he had a title, which was recognised by others although 
apparently not claimed by himself. Many Corsicans have titles which 
have been granted by foreign rulers, and probably they do not represent 
the old feudal lords who are referred to in the text. Throughout this 
work the term * nobleman * or * signor ' should be taken to mean the 
holder of a fief, or a member of a family with feudal rights, not neces- 
sarily a man with a title. 

■\ In theory their decisions were final, but complaint could be made in 
case of manifest injustice. 


evidence adduced. Death sentences required the 
approval of the supreme council. 

The Court of Syndicate was elected by parliament, 
and had the right to hear appeals and inquire into 
the administration of the provincial courts, for w^hich 
purpose its members visited various parts of the 
country. This court w^as supreme, as indeed, theo- 
retically, wras the court of the same name under the 
Bank of St George. Paoli was usually a member 
of the syndicate. It was not his custom to attend 
the sittings of the court, but when suitors were not 
content with its decisions he would himself listen to 
their complaints, and generally contrived to satisfy 

Besides his magisterial duties, the podesta of a 
commune or village was the representative of the 
government in his own district, and was the proper 
channel of communication between government 
and people. The padri del commtme had charge 
of the local arrangements, including police, and 
were expected to assemble their constituents to dis- 
cuss all matters of importance. But in many villages 
the inconvenience of constant public meetings was 
avoided by the election of councillors, to whom the 
powers of the community were delegated, and who, 
with the podesta and 'fathers,' formed a village 
council. There were also instances of rtiore than 
one podesta being elected in the same parish, in 
which case the powers of the office remained the 
same as if it had had only one holder. 

The parliament was known as the ' consulta,' the 
name being an old one, and now applied to a more 
regularly elected assembly than in former times. 



The members, called 'procurators,' were elected 
annually by the votes of all citizens over tw^enty-five 
years of age, and received a small payment to cover 
the expense of attending the sessions at Corte. 

In numbers the consulta was by no means regular. 
In some cases one procurator might be elected for the 
whole of a pieve (parish), in others each village 
would send its own member ; but the validity of 
every election was attested by the signature of a 
notary-public, the procurator being obliged to deliver 
this document to the ' great chancellor of the king- 
dom' on arrival at the Corte. 

In addition to the ordinary members, there were 
also summoned to the consulta men of eminence 
in the state, such as former members of the supreme 
council and near relatives of those who had lately 
lost their lives in battle. Finally, there were re- 
presentatives of the clergy and of the provincial 

The consulta elected the 'supreme council,' 
which consisted of nine members, representing the 
nine provinces of Corsica. Each province, by its 
procurators, elected its own representative, whose 
election then required confirmation by a majority 
of the procurators of the other provinces. This 
council, with the general of the kingdom as its 
president, was the chief authority of the nation, one 
of its members being the chancellor, and the general 
not being permitted to take any steps of importance 
without its consent. The supreme council had also 
the power of postponing any measure brought before 
parliament by a private member until the next session, 
in order that it might be futher considered. 


The members of this council were not all in 
constant residence at the capital. Three only were 
necessary at a time, except during the session of the 
consulta, and the general could require the atten- 
dance of the rest whenever he thought fit. 

The consulta, besides choosing the supreme council 
and the Court of Syndicato, also elected its own 
president, to whom were handed the proposals of 
government for new laws ; and its ' orator,' whose 
business it was to read to the members all documents 
submitted for their consideration, and to receive and 
take charge of all petitions. Both president and 
orator were elected by an elaborate process of 
elimination, which must have taken up a good deal 
of time. 

The provincial magistrates were chosen by the 
procurators of their provinces every year, and, as 
a rule, were five in number — a president, two 
' assessors ' or assistants, an auditor and a chancellor. 
The two last received payment in cash, the others 
in the shape of provisions, and they were protected 
by a small body of troops. But the number of 
members of a provincial magistracy was not invari- 
able, some irregularities being permitted, just as in 
the village councils. 

It is evident that much time must have been spent 
in these numerous elections. We see that every 
year the people had to elect podestas, fathers of the 
community, village councils and most of the pro- 
curators. The latter, in their turn, had to elect all 
the provincial magistrates, their own president and 
'orator,' the supreme council and the Court of 
Syndicato, before they could attend to public business. 


Paoli himself was the only permanent office-bearer, 
and, being usually a member of the syndicate, and 
always president of the supreme council, in which 
he had both a vote and a casting vote, it will readily 
be admitted that his authority, in spite of all apparent 
checks, must have been supreme, almost absolute. 
As his title implies, he had the command of the 
military force of the kingdom, so that he could always 
enforce his authority if necessary. But this was 
seldom the case, his popularity increased as years went 
on, and he was regarded by his fellow-countrymen 
with the deepest love and reverence. 

He never married, and his life was entirely devoted 
to the service of Corsica. He is described as 'tall, 
strong and well made,' * his complexion fair, and his 
expression pleasing, his glance keen and penetrating. 
In manner he was polite, but reserved ; his memory 
was very good, and his general knowledge extensive. 
He was a good classical scholar, and particularly fond 
of Plutarch's writings. He possessed some English 
books, of which Boswell gives a curious list — 'Some 
volumes of the Spectator and Tatler, Pope's Essay 
on Man, Gulliver's Travels, a history of France in 
old English, and Barclay's Apology for the fakers.' 
His visitor adds that he afterwards sent him some 
more English books. 

Paoli could not be unmindful of the fate of GaiFori 
and many another Corsican patriot, and was ever on 
his guard against assassination. A guard was provided 
for him, consisting, according to one account, of 
twenty-four men, according to another, of eighty ; 
most probably the latter is correct. In addition to 

* Boswell, Tour to Corsica, 


his official guard he had his own private one — half 
a dozen Corsican dogs, some in his room, others 
outside the door. Another, and very different ruler, 
the emperor Tiberius, is believed to have had a 
similar bodyguard ; than which none more brave 
or faithful could be found.* 

A small paid force of regular troops was maintained 
to garrison particular forts, and provide gur.rds for 
the magistrates. Their uniform was black, the 
officers wearing a little lace on the collar. They 
were armed with musket and bayonet, pistols and 
daggers being also carried. Paoli would probably 
have dispensed with regular troops altogether if he 
could, as he considered a standing army (as then 
constituted) opposed to Republican institutions. His 
idea was that the whole nation should be disciplined, 
thus providing an invincible militia. 

The military system which Paoli found already in 
force provided for the levy of all men capable of 
bearing arms, officered by their own leaders and 
receiving no pay. 

This system he somewhat reformed. Each village 
was made to furnish its own company, and each ' pieve' 
comprised the companies from its villages in one corps. 
The commanding officer of the corps and the captains 
of companies were appointed by the general. The 
whole of this militia, or such portion as he judged 
necessary, was at all times liable for service ; but 

* Dogs. The Corsican dog is described both by Boswell [Account of 
Corsica, ch. i.) and by Gregorovius. My own impression of him is an 
animal rather in the nature of a large sheep dog, with a cross of the 
mastiff. It is, however, a distinct breed, or used to be. These dogs 
are supposed to be very fierce, but I did not meet that variety, perhaps 
on account of their masters' friendliness. 


ordinarily not more than a third would be called up, 
and then only for a fortnight at a time. Families, as 
far as possible, were kept in the same companies, 
so that a man usually fought in the presence of his 
own relations. While actually employed, these troops 
received pay. 

Muskets, pistols, daggers and gunpowder were 
generally made in Corsica, but bullets were mostly 
brought from abroad, or taken from the Genoese. 
For artillery the Corsicans were dependent on what 
they could get from wrecked ships, or capture in war, 
besides a few guns purchased on the Continent. 

The general found useful auxiliaries amongst the 
clergy. The monks were ever ready to take up 
arms when the country was in danger, and a Fran- 
ciscan, Padre Leonardo (who was a professor at the 
university of Corte), preached the doctrine that a 
martyr's crown awaited a Corsican who died for his 
country. In a sincerely religious community this 
doctrine had a powerful effect, adding, as it did, the 
sanction of religion to the impulses of honour and 

The parish priests also greatly helped the general 
to foster the patriotism and courage of the people, by 
carefully compiling returns of the names of all who 
had lost their lives in the service of their country 
since 1729, noting, where possible, the date and place 
of death. 

These returns were made at Paoli's instance ; their 
value can hardly be overestimated, as they caused 
every man to feel that his death in action would 
reflect honour, not only on himself, but upon all his 



All these various regulations and changes were 
gradually instituted during Pascal Paoli's long ad- 
ministration. There was no sudden revolution when 
he first took ofSce, but the existing state of things 
was, from time to time, modified and improved. The 
general's conduct was ever marked by a tender con- 
sideration for the feelings, even for the prejudices, of 
the people committed to his charge ; and he preferred 
to bring them insensibly to approve of his mode of 
government, rather than to enforce his views by an 
arbitrary exercise of power. 

For instance, it was not until the session of 1764 
(the session usually began in May) that it was clearly 
laid down what majority was required in the consulta 
to pass a proposed measure into law. A two-thirds' 
majority was then decided on, whilst a measure which 
secured half the votes recorded might again be 
brought forward during the same session ; but a 
motion distinctly negatived could not again be dis- 
cussed until another consulta had assembled, and then 
only with the consent of government. The consulta 
of 1 764 (which we shall find later discussing important 
questions of foreign policy) also regulated the periods 
of residence of members of the supreme council, 
defined the qualifications for election and re-election 
of various officials, and provided for the government 
of the country in the event of a vacancy in the office 
of general. The latter contingency never came to 
pass, Paoli holding office as long as a free Corsica 

For a member of the supreme council the qualifica- 
tions were as follows — age not less than thirty-five 
years, and previous exemplary service as president of a 


provincial magistracy, podesta of a large town, or some 
other ' respectable charge ' in the public service. The 
podestas of certain towns were independent of the 
magistrates of their provinces. For this office, and 
for that of president of a provincial magistracy, the 
age was fixed at thirty years, and some knowledge of 
the business to be transacted was required, besides 
former service in a subordinate capacity. Before re- 
election, all these officials were required to satisfy the 
Court of Syndicato of their capability and good conduct, 
and had also to wait two years before again under- 
taking the same office. 

An English traveller, who visited and studied 
Corsica early in the present century, justly remarks 
that a Corsican politician ' could only serve his own 
private interests by consulting the general good of the 
nation.' * 

The income of the state (besides that portion of 
the tithes which fell to government by the absence of 
the bishops) was raised principally by a small capita- 
tion, or, rather, household tax, a revenue from the 
coral fishery, and a salt tax. The tithes amounted 
(according to Boswell) to ' about a twentieth part of 
every production,' by which we may suppose agri- 
cultural produce to be meant. But certain families 
claiming descent from the ancient caporali — i.e., those 
of a period anterior to the foundation of the Terra del 
Commune — were exempt from the payment of tithes, 
on account of the assistance given by their ancestors 
to Hugo Colonna when he expelled the Saracens, t 

* Benson, Sketches ofCorsica, sec. 2. 

\ The existence of Hugo Colonna was evidently believed in by the 
Corsicans, in spite of the ' historic doubts ' of some authors. (Se« ch, i.) 



There were also cases of tithe redemption by an 
arrangement with the Church. 

The finances of the country do not appear to have 
been of much importance, and the expenses of govern- 
ment were small. The payment of the procurators 
was provided for by their own constituents, and many 
of the offices of state seem to have been without 

During the last years of Paoli's administration the 
population of Corsica, omitting the territory still under 
Genoese rule, has been estimated at about two hundred 
thousand ;* and out of this number it was thought that 
an army of forty thousand men could be raised. This 
seems a too sanguine estimate of the armed strength of 
the nation ; possibly there was that number of men en- 
rolled in the militia, but to keep them in arms for any 
length of time must have been a sheer impossibility. 

The above estimate of the population was based on 
the number of families paying taxes to Genoa before 
the war broke out, but we may doubt if all the 
Corsican families did indeed pay taxes. For various 
reasons a good many people lived in remote parts of 
the mountain ranges, and avoided the notice of govern- 
ment officials. It may be of interest to mention that 
a century later the population of the island did not 
exceed a quarter of a million. 

The country people often cultivated farms at some 
distance from their villages. Corn, vines, olives, 
chestnuts, timber, and the cork tree were the chief 
products of the soil. 

The Corsican mint was established in the house of 

* Boswell. Sismondi only allows a population of one hundred and 
thirty thousand (Hist, des Fratifais, ch. xlviii.). 


Barbaggi (who was connected by marriage with the 
Paoli family), and silver and copper money was struck. 
During the French occupation of the seaports a good 
deal of French money found its way to this establish- 
ment, to be converted into the national coinage. 

So long ago as 1650 an attempt had been made to 
found a Corsican university, under the presidency of 
Jerome Biguglia of Bastia ; but the nickname ' Dei 
Vagabond i ' does not lead to the belief that it had any 
great success. General de Cursay, whose career was 
notable for his desire to benefit Corsica, tried to re- 
habilitate the Vagabonds, but after his recall to France 
they disappeared.* 

Paoli replaced the defunct academy with a national 
university at Corte, which was opened in January 
1765. The professors were all Corsicans and mostly 
clergymen, and their zeal for teaching was at least 
equalled by their patriotism. In addition to the 
martyr's crown, promised by Father Leonardo to those 
who died for their country, we find Fra Filippo 
Bernardi declaring that whoso slew a Genoese thereby 
cleansed his soul from sin. 

But the university taught theology, philosophy, 
mathematics, law, etc., besides patriotism ; and its 
public examinations were attended by members of 
the government and consulta. 

A public printing press made the university inde- 
pendent of foreign supplies of books of instruction, 
and the foundation of ' proper schools for children in 
every village' (Boswell) is a sufficient proof of the 
enlightenment and liberality of this small nation 
during its last struggles for liberty. 

* See Valery, Liv. I., ch. iv. 


Corsica, under Paoli's guidance, was showing her- 
self a country in which freedom and law went hand in 
hand. Feudal oppression had been abolished, and a 
popular government instituted, without any violent 
revolution. This was not entirely due to Paoli. The 
customs of the old Terra del Commune gave him the 
outlines of a representative constitution ; but he suc- 
ceeded in extending this constitution to the country 
at large, and at the same time secured a proper 
respect for the law, thereby giving internal peace to 
the nation. This he did in spite of a constant state 
of war, which lasted from the time of his arrival in 
1755, until, in 1769, he found himself once more an 
exile. But for the fact that the acquisition of Corsica 
seemed necessary to secure France from attack in the 
Mediterranean there can be little doubt that Paoli 
would have succeeded in making his country a free 
and independent state. He proved, at all events, that 
Corsica could at the same time fight for liberty, 
and show that she deserved it. 




A.D. 1760-64. In the year 1760 Agostino Lomellino became Doge 
of Genoa. He was a man of experience in foreign 
affairs, having previously been the Genoese minister 
at Paris. Well disposed towards France, he was 
also a patriotic citizen of Genoa. He knew that 
the retention of Corsica was a task of great difficulty, 
but felt that the attempt ought to be made, and 
that to sell the island would be shameful. He was 
therefore prepared to make great concessions, even 
sacrifices, to enable the republic still to hold her 
' kingdom.' 

The neutrality of Genoa was respected by England, 
and the republic had nothing to fear from that 
power in respect of Corsica. But the expense of 
holding the island, or, rather, of trying to hold it, 
pressed heavily on the treasury, and a voluntary tax 
was proposed to provide the necessary funds. The 
doge himself led the way with a magnificent con- 
tribution, but his example was not followed, and 
it was evident that no vigorous steps could be 



A manifesto had been issued in May 1760 by the 
Corsican government, complaining of the seizure of 
their vessels by the Genoese, and threatening retalia- 
tion, v^^hich greatly terrified the Genoese merchants. 
Lomellino, who now^ earnestly desired peace, is said 
to have wfished to amalgamate the two nations ; he 
was even willing to admit eminent Corsicans into 
the ranks of the Genoese nobility, and to open to 
them the doors of the council and Senate. 

This he dared not openly declare, and it was, in 
any case, probably too late ; but he preferred con- 
ciliation to empty threats of repression, which only 
exposed Genoa to contempt. 

At the same time France was requested not to 
raise false hopes in the minds of the islanders. Sorba 
wrote that Genoa required neither arms nor money, 
only a declaration that the interests of France 
required Corsica to remain the property of the 
republic. It was decided that the few places still 
in Genoa's power should be held, but nothing further 
attempted by force. 

In May 1761 a very bland and alluring manifesto 
was issued, with the object of bringing the Corsicans 
to terms. It began by intimating the republic's in- 
tention of giving the Corsicans the most indubitable 
and authentic proofs of paternal affection, and of a 
sincere desire to render them tranquil and happy. 
An equitable administration of justice was promised, 
and a fostering care of Corsican trade. It was sug- 
gested that the Corsicans themselves should concur 
in arranging a pacification, so greatly desired by 
Genoa for the good of the kingdom. 

The doge, counting to some extent on bribery, 



hoped for some good results from this friendly 
offer. Paoli was promised the title of general 
of the Corsican troops, and it was believed that 
a party in favour of Genoa might be formed. 
But the doge was mistaken. Paoli announced that 
the republic had offered peace on advantageous 
terms, but he left it to the consulta to decide 
how much confidence ought to be placed in these 

This consulta * was held at Vescovato, and it 
was resolved that peace should not be made, unless 
Genoa recognised Corsican independence as a pre- 
liminary. This done, the Corsicans were prepared to 
pay all debts due to the republic in the island, on 
condition that all fortresses should be surrendered 
to them. This put an end to the negotiations. 
Emissaries of the republic had arrived with a large 
sum of money to distribute in bribes, but their 
journey was useless, and they and their money were 
sent home again. 

Not being able to make peace, Lomellino wished 
to use force to compel the Corsicans to submit ; 
but the whole blame of the recent failure was imputed 
to him, and the republic was unwilling to spend 
more money. The French government praised the 
disinterested patriotism of the doge, but warned him 
that the useless employment of force to regain an 
ascendency, already forfeited, would be nothing less 
than a crime. 

Towards the end of 1762 a new doge took ofBce, 
and an attempt was made to overthrow Paoli by 

* It has been called the Consulta of Casinca, from the name of the 
province of which Vescovato was the chief town. 



raising a party against him in Corsica. To this 
end money was sent to his old enemies, the Matras 
with a commission to raise troops in the name of 
the republic ; but the money was wasted, as there 
were no Corsicans willing to march against their 
ruler under the flag of Genoa. 

The general, busy both with foreign and internal 
affairs, about this time conceived the curious project 
of inviting Rousseau to become the legislator of 
Corsica, and a letter was written by Buttafuoco, 
asking him to come to the island. It was also 
suggested that he would more quickly acquire the 
confidence of the people if he would become a 
Roman Catholic, a proposal which seems to have 
given some offence. Voltaire insinuated that the 
whole thing was a mere practical joke ; but Paoli, 
hearing this, wrote himself to confirm the invitation. 
Rousseau did not come, but, nevertheless, took great 
interest in Corsica, and the intervention of the 
French, in 1764, provoked him to the remark that 
' if they heard of a free man at the other end of 
the world, they would go thither for the pleasure 
of exterminating him.' 

Is it to be supposed that Paoli really expected 
Rousseau to come ? Probably not ; but it was part 
of his policy to arouse interest in all quarters. 

This policy he had for some time been diligently 
carrying out. He found that England was not 
prepared to openly uphold an independent Corsica, 
in spite of the great sympathy displayed by individuals 
in that country ; he found also that the empire 
was too far away, and neither Spain nor Sardinia 
strong enough to support him effectively ; and he 



perceived that he could not entirely deliver his 
country from Genoa without coming to an under- 
standing virith France. 

But while he used his utmost endeavours to gain 
French support, the republic was doing precisely the 
same thing. After the humiliating failure of their 
attempts to gain Corsica, either by negotiation, or 
by raising up opposition to the general amongst his 
own people, the Genoese were divided against them- 
selves as to what policy to adopt. There was the 
party of masterly inactivity, desirous only of holding 
on to the seaports still in their possession, and waiting 
on events ; there was a forward party, in favour of 
boldly advancing and reducing the whole country 
by force of arms (a manifest impossibility) ; and 
finally, a party in favour of the sale or exchange of 
this troublesome possession. But even this solution 
was difficult, and opinions divided as to how to 
manage it. It was proposed to cede the island to 
the Grand Duke of Tuscany, but this was strongly 
objected to, for fear of its damaging Genoese trade, 
to the advantage of Leghorn. 

One thing was clear — unless they came to some 
decision quickly there would be nothing left to decide, 
for the Corsicans had already invested the few fortresses 
still held by the republic, and, without reinforcements, 
these places must soon fall. Paoli defeated Matra, 
with great loss, at Furiani, in July 1763 ; and the 
Senate, as a last resource, directed Sorba to apply to 
France for troops to ' preserve, reduce and pacify the 
island.' * But the French ministers at last began to 
consider the suggestions of their generals and other 

* 'Conserver, reduire et pacifier I'lle (Vincens). 


officers formerly connected with Corsica. It ha'd been 
urged over and over again that it w^as useless to go 
on sending troops to the island and then withdrawing 
them without gaining any advantage. The treaty 
concluded at Paris in February 1763 had, in ter- 
minating the Seven Years' War, restored Minorca to 
England, which must have reminded French states- 
men of the views held by their minister at Genoa 
(Campredon) before the intervention of 1738. It 
was therefore necessary, from their point of view, to 
consider together the applications made by Paoli and 

In November 1763, Choiseul, then at the head of 
the French government, received some private in- 
formation as to the state of Corsica, which, although 
he seemed to take little notice of it at the time, may 
yet have led him to believe that Paoli was not quite 
in a position to answer for the policy of his country. 

The facts, as related in the memoirs of the officer 
who made the report, are as follows : — 

Dumouriez, at that time an officer on half-pay, 
visited Genoa in 1763 and became acquainted with the 
ex-doge, Lomellino. Finding that the republic was 
about to send five hundred men to reinforce the garrison 
of San Fiorenzo, which was besieged by Paoli, he applied 
for the command of the expedition. This command 
was not given him, so he decided to serve against 
Genoa and went to Leghorn. Thence he wrote to 
Paoli and offered his services, an offer which was 
politely declined. 

Now, although no Corsican would serve under 
Genoa against Paoli, still the general was not without 
enemies ; and one of them, Costa de Castellana, made 



friends with Dumouriez, who, failing employment 
under Paoli, was quite willing to side with the faction 
opposed to him. (He had, of course, no personal 
interest in the matter, beyond a desire to take part 
in whatever was going on.) Being persuaded that the 
opposition was powerful, Dumouriez proposed to the 
leaders of the party a scheme whereby they should 
overthrow the general and proclaim an independent 
republic, promising to obtain from Choiseul such 
indirect assistance as might be needed, if not an open 
recognition of independence. 

Having seen the signatures of ' vingt-quartre chefs 
de pieves,' and been promised the command of the 
Republican army, i Dumouriez landed at Porto Vecchio 
and proceeded to Sartene. Thence he went on to 
Bocognano to supervise the defence of the defile 
against Paoli's army, and gave orders for some en- 
trenchments to be made — an order which was 
neglected. This ' defile ' must mean the pass of 
Vizzavona, near Bocognano, on the road from 
Ajaccio to Corte. It was afterwards forced by 
Paoli's troops, so Dumouriez turned his attention 
to Bonifacio, which he failed to surprise. But he 
had observed the fine timber which abounds in 
Corsica, and advised the people to mark the best 
trees for felling, and to prepare a road to transport 
them to Porto Vecchio, assuring them that they 
would be able to exchange their timber for 
military stores and arms, as the French required it 
for shipbuilding. 

After various adventures Dumouriez returned to 
France and presented a report to the Due de Choiseul, 
in which he gave much information on Corsican 


affairs, and made various suggestions as to the policy 
to be adopted.* 

Although this report may have led Choiseul to 
doubt the stability of Paoli's government, still it was 
clear that Genoa could not long retain any power in 
the island ; and now (December 1 763) the general made 
a guarded offer to submit to a French protectorate 
on certain conditions. But this negotiation was in 
secret, and Sorba's request for troops already under 

In dealing with the republic, Choiseul began by 
objecting to the idea of using force against the 
Corsicans, and intimated a desire to pacify them 
without compulsion. Moreover, before undertaking 
to do anything, he demanded the surrender of at 
least one fortress, which was to be retained by France 
for ever. 

This demand caused an outcry at Genoa, and 
seems not to have been pressed. Then the king 
pretended that the troops could not be spared ; 
he wanted to reorganise his army. But he allowed 
his ministers to persuade him into consenting, 
when his apparent hesitation had alarmed the 
republic sufficiently. 

Now, amongst the conditions proposed by Paoli 
was an offer to raise two Corsican regiments, for 
which France was to pay an annual subsidy. An 
unsigned note was sent him in February 1764, in 
which he was informed that the regiments were not 
thought necessary, but that the subsidy should be 
granted for other purposes at some future time, when 
his proposals should be reconsidered. In the mean- 

* See La Vie et Memoires du General Dumouriez, Liv.I., ch. iii. 


time France reserved the right to disavow all that had 
passed. He was also informed the French troops were 
about to be sent to Corsica, but with no hostile intent. 
The appellation of 'rebels,' to which the islanders 
strongly objected, was now softened into that of 
' malcontents ' ; and the general was requested to 
explain matters to the nation, so that no attack 
should be made on the French. Paoli, in reply, 
expressed great regret at the loan of troops to 
his enemies, and hoped that full details of any 
treaty with Genoa would be communicated to his 

Finally, a treaty was signed at Compiegne (August 
1764), whereby France agreed to send three thou- 
sand men to Corsica, for the protection of the sea- 
ports ; * three of which were to be held entirely by 
French troops, the Genoese evacuating them, and 
having in them no authority whatever. The 
occupation was to last four years, and the French 
officers were to be allowed free intercourse with the 
Corsicans, in order that they might use their influence 
in restoring peace. But to Genoa was reserved the 
right of issuing proclamations to recall the 'mal- 
contents ' to obedience. A somewhat ironical clause 
confirmed to Genoa the sovereignty of the island, 
together with the civil and ecclesiastical administration, 
both of which had long since passed out of her keep- 
ing. Sorba fought hard for the omission of the clause 
excluding Genoese troops from the places assigned to 

* Sismondi (ch. Iv.) says that France was to send seven battalions to 
garrison Bastia, Ajaccio, Calvi and San Fiorenzo. Annual Register^ 
Vol. VII., p. loi, substitutes 'Algagliola' (Algajola) for Calvi. Seven 
battalions, on a peace footing, would amount to nearly three thousand 


France, but his efforts were fruitless, and he had to 
submit. With reference to this treaty, it has been 
stated (Boswell) that France owed money to Genoa, 
and sent troops as payment; but Vincens {Hist, de 
Gene',) repeatedly mentions subsidies granted by France 
to the republic, and, in this instance, adds that these 
subsidies were now discontinued. In November 1764 
Paoli raised the siege of San Fiorenzo ; and the French 
troops, under Count de Marbeuf, arrived in Corsica 
about the same time. 

The consulta had already been assembled at Corte, 
in October, to consider what to do under these 
altered conditions ; and, after three days spent in 
discussing the situation, the procurators had unani- 
mously decided to appoint a ' council of war and 
observation ' to watch over their relations with the 
French, who were not to be admitted into Corsican 
territory. The general was empowered to post 
guards on the frontiers, and to grant passports to 
French officers desiring admission ; but he was to 
account to parliament for every passport so granted, 
and for any treaty he might make with the French 
commander. In case of new overtures from Genoa, 
they were to be rejected, unless, as a preliminary, the 
independence of Corsica was admitted. The general 
was instructed to represent to the King of France 
that his troops prevented the Corsicans from finally 
driving the Genoese out of the island, which they 
must soon have done had he not intervened. An 
appeal was also to be made to other powers, asking 
them to persuade France to refrain from intervention. 
Finally, it was forbidden to fell timber in the forests, 
without written licence from government ; this last 



measure being probably required to protect the forests 
from the French.* 

The arrival of Marbeuf with his small army, 
although it prevented the expulsion of the Genoese, 
was by no means an unmixed evil. The French 
general was an enlightened and generous man, and 
his instructions enabled him to act in the most 
friendly manner towards Paoli. The latter understood 
well enough that he must desist from his task of 
driving out the ancient oppressors of his country ; 
but they had no longer any power to do evil, while 
the French, provided he did not attack them, were 
willing to leave him 'in peace. The Corsicans put no 
obstacles in the way of movements of French troops 
between the places they occupied ; and, appreciating 
the fact that they brought money into the country, 
the peasantry flocked to the markets established to 
supply the foreigners' wants. 

A convention between Paoli and the French com- 
mander ensured the mutual surrender of ftagitives from 
justice, and greatly aided the Corsican executive, as, 
hitherto, criminals had been able to evade punishment 
by escaping to any town under Genoese jurisdiction. 

Genoa, hoping for a conflict between the French 
and Corsicans, asked for more troops. The permanent 
A.D. 1765. surrender of a fortress was demanded by France as the 
price of further assistance, and to this the republic 
would not agree, so no more came ; but Marbeuf was 
asked to use his influence to bring the 'malcontents' 
to terms. He, however, was already on very good 

* Boswell gives the full text of the very interesting document record- 
ing the decisions of this consulta, signed by Chancellor Massesi. See 
Appendix V. of his Account of Corsica. 


terms with them, and carefully avoided all cause of 

When the French occupation had lasted two years, 
Genoa asked for its prolongation beyond the four years 
originally agreed upon, but offered no particular a.d. 1766. 
advantages in return for this additional help, so the 
king declared that his troops should be withdrawn 
at the end of the fourth year. 

This declaration, whether sincere or not, convinced 
Genoa that her kingdom of Corsica was lost. To 
all but the government of the republic this fact had 
already been patent for some time. Paoli, in spite 
of the French, or perhaps with their consent, had 
constructed fortifications in various places ; the in- 
habitants of towns, still nominally Genoese, sent 
procurators to the consulta ; and, worse than all, 
even in Liguria itself, Corsican independence was 
admitted, and Genoese merchants were glad of 
passports from Paoli to ensure the safety of their 

Not content with practical independence, Corsica i?^?' 
looked abroad for new adventures. 

The little island of Capraja, which lies between 
Cap-Corse and the mainland of Italy, was in old 
days the property of a Corsican family (Da Mare), 
but had been for generations a purely Genoese 

In December 1766 Paul Mattel di Centuri or 
Centurini), having occasion to land at Capraja, made 
it his business to find out how it was defended. 
He found that provisions were scarce and the place 

* It is possible that the Da Mare family came originally from Genoa. 
The name occurs in early Genoese history. 


but carelessly guarded ; so, on his return to Corsica, 
he proposed to the general that the island should be 
annexed. Paoli consented, and sent Achilles Murati 
and Baptist Ristori (who both were officers in the 
Corsican militia) in joint command of the expedition, 
which was composed of two hundred of the regular 
troops, a body of militia from the village of Tomino, 
and some volunteers, with whom was Mattel, the 
originator of the scheme. 

They started from Macinajo, in Cap-Corse, on the 
1 6th February 1767, and landed at Capraja by night. 
Here they were at once joined by many of the 
Capraese, to whom it was explained that they came 
to set them free from the tyranny of Genoa. They 
promptly laid siege to the citadel, which was bravely 
defended by Bernardo Ottone, who held out until the 
end of May. The republic sent Pinelli, with a fleet 
and troops, to dislodge the invaders, but the Genoese 
troops were defeated and the fleet repulsed. In the 
end the republic had to suffer the dishonour of 
losing Capraja, which, for a time, became Corsican 

Yet another blow was in store for Genoa. The 
Jesuits had been expelled from France and Spain, 
and the republic offered them an asylum in Corsica. 
Choiseul then ordered Marbeuf to evacuate any 
place defended by France as soon as the Jesuits 
should enter it. The result of this order was the 
occupation of Ajaccio and other places by the 

Genoa had lost her subject kingdom, and nothing 
now remained but to decide how best to retire with 



A free Corsica might be dangerous to a state 
now scarcely able to defend its own commerce. The 
only power in a position to take over the island was 
France ; and Sorba, the negotiator who had in the 
past contrived to get help to keep the 'kingdom' 
of Corsica, was now to arrange for its transfer to 
a foreign power and its separation from Italy. 




A.D. 1767-58. Paoli knew that the Genoese government intended 
to arrange for the surrender of his native country, 
and he accordingly tried to come to terms with the 
republic himself. His offer was one which might 
possibly have been accepted, had not Genoa been 
already compromised with France. Bonifacio had 
been Genoese for centuries, and this city Paoli offered 
to hold as a fief granted by the republic, and to pay 
a rent for it ; the rest of the island was to be inde- 
pendent. But the Genoese took very little notice 
of this offer, being perhaps suspicious of the general's 
power to carry it out. Moreover, it was known at 
Genoa that Buttafuoco, who was believed to be in 
Paoli's confidence, was at Paris, and it was desirable 
to penetrate his designs before coming to a decision. 
An offer had been made to hand over Corsica to the 
King of France, to dispose of the country and nation 
as he pleased. Other suggestions were made, all 
tending to the frustration of Paoli's hopes of making 


his country independent. Sorba had a curious plan of 
his own, designed to disguise the actual surrender of 
the island. In the end we shall find his plan adopted. 

In Corsica great anxiety was felt as to the inten- 
tions of the French government. Paoli had hither- 
to been willing to accept a French protectorate, if 
necessary ; but now he had some hopes of support 
from England, where much interest was taken in his 

While the fate of Corsica was thus in suspense 
Paoli adopted a strange expedient, perhaps with 
the view of consolidating his own authority and 
committing his fellow-countrymen to a definite course 
of action. One day, at the close of a sitting of the 
consulta, he led the procurators into a room where 
they saw, to their astonishment, a throne. This, 
he explained, was to be regarded as the visible symbol 
of national independence, but added that it should 
have no occupant until Corsica was free. His 
announcement was listened to in silence. If he 
expected to be invited to seat himself upon the throne 
he was disappointed, and the subject was alluded to 
no more.* 

In 1768 a definite offer to hand over Corsica a.d. 1768. 
to France was made by the republic ; but the plan 
elaborated by Sorba was now brought to light and 
satisfied all parties (except the Corsicans). 

* This story seems improbable, but it is vouched for by Vincens (Bk. 
xii., ch. v.), Gregorovius (Bk. VII. ch. ii.), and Valery (Bk. I., ch. xl.). 
According to Vincens the date was 1767, and Paoli appears to have been 
sounding the temper of the nation, perhaps with a view to a bold 
defiance of France. There is also a reference to this incident in the 
Annual Register for 1768 (ch. ix,), where Paoli is made to say that the 
throne was to be the pedestal for a statue of Liberty. 


Sorba had acquired credit and gained the confidence 
of influential persons in France* (had bribed the 
Duchess of Grammont's maid t ), and the French 
government let him have his own way in framing 
the treaty, provided only that Coi-sica should become 
French. It was arranged that Genoa should not 
alienate Corsica, but merely recognise the fact that 
to re-occupy the towns garrisoned by France at the 
end of the period already stipulated for would prob- 
ably lead to calamitous results. The republic there- 
fore consented to the retention of these places by 
France, and the occupation of any other parts of the 
island thought necessary for the safety of the French 
troops. The possession of the island was to be 
security for the repayment by Genoa of the money 
spent in the occupation. Genoa retained the right 
to redeem this pledge by paying the costs, and in the 
meantime surrendered all claim to sovereignty ; but the 
island was not to be parted with to any third party. For 
ten years a payment was to be made to the republic, 
at the rate of two hundred thousand francs a year. 
To put the matter shortly, Genoa pawned Corsica for 
eighty thousand pounds. 

A clause in the treaty provided that Genoa should 
never be called upon to redeem her pledge, while no 
limit was set to the time during which it should 
remain open to her to do so. It was pretended that 
Genoa did not lose her ' kingdom,' but only confided 
it to France for a time. But nothing could hide 
the feet that an Italian island had been sold to 

* Vincens, Bk. XII., ch. v. 

f Dumouriez, Bk., I. ch. iii. 



Sorba's treaty was signed on 15th May 1768, and 
at first an attempt was made to keep it secret, but 
the news soon reached Corsica. It was also quickly 
known that an army was being got ready to invade 
the island ; and Paoli learnt, with as much surprise 
as indignation, that Choiseul, whilst amusing him 
with negotiations, had bought his country from 

In despair he assembled the consulta, and his 
secretary, Charles Bonaparte (the father of Napoleon), 
spoke out boldly in favour of resistance. The 
consulta decided not to surrender, and ordered a 
levy en masse. But although the greater part of the 
nation favoured resistance, there was a party well 
disposed towards France, its leader being Butta- 
fuoco, colonel of a Corsican regiment in the French 
service, and formerly one of Paoli's intimate friends. 

There was a short interval of suspense, and then 
came the last act of the tragedy. 

The war began on 30th July, when Marbeuf 
decided to open communications between Bastia 
and San Fiorenzo. This was not done with- 
out considerable loss ; but the French general suc- 
ceeded in opening, and keeping open, the road 
between these two places ; he also made himself 
master of Cap-Corse. 

By the ist September the Marquis de Chauvelin, 
who was to command the French troops in Corsica, 
had arrived at Bastia with the main body of his 
army. This army, according to the account given by 
Dumouriez,* who was on Chauvelin's staff, consisted 
of sixteen battalions and two legions. But these 

* Dumouriez, Liv. I., ch. v. 


units were not at war strength, and the battalions 
did not exceed four hundred men each, while the 
legions were each five hundred strong, half being 
mounted. Six battalions were detached to Ajaccio 
and Calvi, so that the actual strength of the army at 
Bastia was not much over five thousand, afterwards re- 
inforced by four hundred grenadiers from the garrisons 
of Ajaccio and Calvi. This enumeration does not 
appear to include artillery, engineers, and the various 
departments of an army in the field. Moreover, the 
troops already in the island, under Marbeuf, do not 
seem to be taken into account, and they, according 
to an English contemporary authority, amounted to up- 
wards of twelve thousand men.* This, however, is 
most improbable. The treaty with Genoa, under 
which Marbeuf first entered the island, only pro- 
vided for three thousand men being sent to garrison 
certain towns. Perhaps we may safely put down 
the entire strength of the army at Chauvelin's dis- 
posal, in September 1768, as not exceeding fifteen 
thousand men all told, including the various detached 

In addition to his troops, Chauvelin brought with 
him a host of civil functionaries, who were considered 
necessary for the administration of the country. 
This crowd of non-combatants may have swelled 
the numbers of his army in the eyes of contempo- 
raries, but they were naturally of no use until the 
island had been conquered. 

The French commander lost no time in issuing 
proclamations, the most important being the king's 
declaration, which, after explaining that Genoa had 

* Annual Register, Vol. XI., ch. ix. 


voluntarily ceded to him her rights over the island, 
pointed out that he hoped to exercise his authority 
for the good of the people, that they should receive 
every indulgence if they vsrould only submit, and, 
finally, that he trusted he would not be compelled 
to treat his new subjects as rebels. This declaration, 
and other similar documents, were laid before a council 
of the Corsican leaders at Oletta. Their reception of 
the king's friendly overtures was disappointing, for 
they simply tore the papers to pieces and announced, 
in unmistakable language, their intention of fighting 
to the bitter end. 

Chauvelin thereupon moved out of Bastia. On 
the 3rd September he held a council of war, and it 
was decided to attack the Corsicans who were en- 
trenched in the neighbourhood of Furiani. Two 
days later the Corsicans were forced to retreat 
from all their positions, except Furiani, which was 
held by Carlo Saliceti and Ristori, who defended 
the place until it was in ruins and then escaped 
by night.* 

After this engagement the French forces took up 
a position to protect Bastia and threaten the province 
of Nebbio. Six battalions and a legion under Mar- 
beuf were divided between Furiani and Biguglia, 
whilst another brigade under Grandmaison, occupied 
the hills near Oletta, which he sacked, and then 
occupied Murato. 

Chauvelin, meanwhile, had sent to France for 

* It is difficult to trace this campaign. One account gives the French 
twenty-six hundred men on the 5th September, as against fifteen thousand 
Corsicans. Another states that Furiani was held by a small garrison against 
fifteen thousand Frenchmen. I have endeavoured to reconcile various 
conflicting narratives to the best of my ability. 



reinforcements, and especially for mules, his army 
being sadly deficient in transport. 

Paoli's front was covered by the Golo, but he 
pushed his outposts across it, after having repelled 
an attempt on the part of the French to establish 
themselves south of this river on the nth of 
September. On the 15th Clement Paoli drove 
Grandmaison out of Murato, obliging him to retire 
to Oletta, losing some guns in his retreat, besides 
money and baggage. 

Borgo had been occupied by Colonel du Lude with 
five hundred men,* besides artillery ; when Grand- 
maison retreated from Murato this place became 
isolated, and was soon besieged by the Corsicans. 
Chauvelin manifested little alarm when he heard of 
the investment of Borgo, counting on Du Lude's 
superiority in arms, and on his possession of artillery, 
which the Corsicans lacked. But Du Lude, desir- 
ous of occupying a strong position, confined him- 
self to the upper part of the village, in which 
there was no water ; and he only held a few 
houses on the slope of the hill to keep open his 
communications with the lower portion, in which 
was a spring. This neglect was soon punished. 
Four hundred Corsicans, under Grimaldi, cut off 
Du Lude from his water supply, and soon after a 
greater number fortified the houses in the lower 
part of the village (6th October). 

Chauvelin now attempted the relief of Borgo. 
Going himself with one column, Marbuef accom- 
panying him, he sent Grandmaison with another to 
take the besiegers in reverse. Grandmaison was 

* Or twelve hundred, according to some accounts. 


attacked in the hills and never arrived at Borgo at 
all, but Chauvelin penetrated to the centre of the 
village, where his men were crumpled up by an 
invisible enemy, firing at short range from the 
houses. Du Lude sent out a company of gren- 
adiers to assist Chauvelin's force ; only one man 
of the company returned. The inhabitants of 
Borgo joined in the fight, and the Abbe Agostino 
di Silvareccio greatly distinguished himself by his 
courage and marksmanship. The French were ob- 
liged to retreat, leaving at least three hundred dead 
in the village (one account puts their loss at over 
eighteen hundred) ; and next day Du Lude surrendered 
with his whole force, besides having to give up the 
colours of the ' legion royale ' and four guns.* Chauvelin 
had now been engaged for over a month in the conquest 
of Corsica, but had scarcely gained a foot of ground, 
and had lost heavily both in men and material. Paoli 
was making a good fight of it. 

On the 29th of October an attempt was made by 
Count de Coigni, with eight hundred men, to retake 
Murato. The attack failed, Coigni was killed and his 
men scattered. 

While affairs went badly for France in the neigh- 
bourhood of Bastia, it was found that at Ajaccio there 
was little danger of resistance. Count de Narbonne, 
who had been in command there, was ordered to 
Calvi, where he was to await a portion of the rein- 
forcements expected from France ; there, also, it was 
hoped that the party hostile to Paoli might be induced 
to join the French. 

* Annual Register, 1768, says twenty guns, but this seems a large number 
to be sent with five hundred men. 



It seems there was some friction between the naval 
and military authorities, as the latter decided to equip 
a few small vessels of war, to be independent of the 
fleet, although there was already a French squadron 
cruising off the island.* 

But the failure of Chauvelin's operations in the 
field checked the course of his intrigues, and he 
found it necessary to condemn Narbonne to in- 
activity at Calvi, and to ask that the whole 
reinforcement (eight battalions, transport, etc.) 
should be sent direct to Bastia. His health had 
suffered during the campaign, and he soon returned 
to France, leaving Marbeuf in command of the 
army (December 1768). Chauvelin did not again 
undertake the conquest of Corsica. 

Marbeuf determined to apply to Paol: or an 
armistice. In this decision he was supported by a 
council of war, which was attended by Narbonne, 
who came from Calvi for the purpose, accompanied 
by Dumouriez. According to the latter, these 
two officers alone opposed the armistice, but were 
out-voted, and returned to Calvi. Paoli granted 
the armistice, and it was found that he had, as 
might have been expected, treated his prisoners 
with every courtesy, although the French had an- 
nounced that Corsicans taken in arms were to be 
treated as rebels. But they had not taken many, 
if any, so there was no great bitterness felt on this 

The French were no further advanced than they 
had been when Chauvelin arrived, but had lost (at 
the lowest computation) not less than five hun- 

* Dumouriez, Liv. I., ch. v. 


dred men killed and about seven hundred taken 
prisoners, and not yet exchanged. Justly has a 
French writer observed of the campaign of 1768, 
that it was 'lightly undertaken, imprudently con- 
ducted and shamefully terminated' (Dumouriez, Liv. 
I., ch. vi.). 

The Corsicans who had joined the French were a.d. 1769. 
not included in the armistice arranged between 
Marbeuf and Paoli. This fact to some extent justifies 
the extraordinary conduct of Dumouriez, who, with 
Narbonne's approval, informed Paoli that as a French 
officer he would respect the armistice ; but, as the 
Corsicans opposed to the general were not included, 
he would continue the war as their leader, * en vertu 
des engagemens personnels qu'il avait pris avec 
eux.' * Accordingly he set to work to corrupt the 
garrison of Isola Rossa, and believed that he had 

A certain Captain Capocchia pretended to come 
into his plans and then prepared him a warm reception. 
Dumouriez, with (according to his own account) 
rather less than two hundred men, attacked Isola Rossa 
by night in January 1769. Capocchia was ready for 
him ; instead of surrendering the fort he opened fire, 
and the assailants were driven off with the loss of half 
their strength, t 

This ' petite gaillardise des corses,' as its promoter 
called it, gave the Corsicans a good reason for dis- 
regarding the armistice. They attacked the French 
in their winter quarters and captured an entire 

* Dumouriez, Liv. I,, ch. v, 

f According to another account they lost nearly five times their whole 



battalion. The country was once more in a state 
of war, and Marbeuf wrote to France that Dumouriez 
was a dangerous madman. 

In spite of his successes, Paoli quite realised the 
difficulty of his position, and would willingly have 
acknowledged Louis XV. as King of Corsica, provided 
only that the free Corsican institutions should remain 
in force. But France was now determined on the 
annexation of the island, and would tolerate no half 

The general's hopes of British intervention in his 
favour were doomed to disappointment. England 
did, indeed, officially complain and protest ; at some 
public meetings sympathy was expressed and money 
subscribed ; from Scotland some pieces of ordnance 
were despatched ; but nothing was done which 
could possibly be of any real use to the Corsicans, 
and, although some notice of the invasion was 
taken in parliament, England did no more than 

Paoli convened the consulta for the last time in 
the province of Casinca, in April 1769, and it was 
decided that the nation should still resist. But the 
outlook was bad. Capraja had been lost and the 
party in favour of France was increasing. This 
consulta was attended by Lord Pembroke, with other 
British, German and Italian sympathisers^ and the 
army was increased by the enlistment of a number 
of foreigners.* 

* Among other foreigners of distinction who were interested in the 
fate of Corsica was the Empress Catherine II. of Russia, who sent Paoli a 
letter purporting to come from ' the inhabitants of the North Pole.' She 
also sent some money. {See Waliszewski, Romance of an Empress^ trans.) 
If she had sent some of the * inhabitants of the North Pole,' as well as 
the money, it might have been of some use. 



The force at Marbeuf's disposal was greatly reduced 
by death, sickness and the loss of at least two whole 
battalions (at Borgo, and when the armistice was 
broken). Even allowing for the reinforcement of 
eight battalions, which had arrived in November 1 768, 
there can hardly have been more than twelve or 
thirteen thousand French soldiers fit for duty in 
Corsica in the winter of 1768-69. 

Marbeuf, however, was not inactive, and under 
his command the French were distinctly more success- 
ful than they had been under Chauvelin ; although he 
may be blamed for losing a whole battalion through 
too great confidence in an armistice already violated 
by a French officer. 

In January 1769 the Corsicans made false attacks 
on Biguglia and Oletta. These attacks were repulsed, 
but served their purpose in drawing off the atten- 
tion of the French. The true objective was San 
Fiorenzo, which was attacked by night, but the 
scaling-ladders were too short, so the assault failed. 
In February the Corsicans took Barbaggio, with five 
companies of French infantry in it, but they stayed 
too long in the neighbourhood, thereby giving 
Marbeuf time to cut ofi" their retreat. A combat 
ensued, in which the Corsicans were defeated with 
heavy loss ; their leader, Colonna, being obliged to 
surrender with two hundred men. Still he was in a 
position to make terms before surrendering. It was 
agreed that neither he nor his followers should be sent to 
France. The French general politely suggested that 
Paoli would sustain a serious loss by the capture of 
Colonna, but the patriot assured him that every 
village in the country produced better men than 


himself, a fact of which he hoped M. de Marbeuf 
would soon be sensible. 

In addition to holding what part of the country was 
already won, Marbeuf had secured twelve field-pieces 
and a quantity of other arms, ammunition and pro- 
visions at Orminio, not long before the affair of 

With so active an enemy in the field, it is little 
wonder if the Corsicans felt somewhat discouraged. 
At the consulta of April Paoli informed them that, 
having foreseen that there could be no harvest, he 
had provided for their needs, and they should lack 
neither arms, ammunition, money nor provisions. 
But he must have known that there was little hope. 
Enormous reinforcements were on their way, under 
command of Count de Vaux, a man who had served 
in the island before, and who bore a good reputation 
as a soldier. With De Vaux in command, seconded 
by Narbonne and Marbeuf, there was not much 
chance for the patriots, and they knew it, but yet 
were ready to try another campaign. Count de Vaux 
arrived in April, and with him came not only more 
battalions, but also twelve hundred mules for trans- 
port purposes, a most valuable reinforcement in a 
mountainous country with, at that time, few and bad 
roads. The army he commanded consisted of forty- 
two battalions and four legions, including those in the 
country before his arrival. This force, if we accept 
the strength of battalions and legions as given by Du- 
mouriez, would not amount to nineteen thousand men 
all told. With additions for artillery and the various 
departments of an army, we can scarcely reckon on 
as many as twenty-five thousand of all ranks, out of 


which number about one thousand may have been 

The new French general had, many years before, 
been wounded by a peasant of Sartene. This man 
was taken prisoner and brought before him. The 
Frenchman, at once generous and politic, treated him 
with great friendliness, and so won some personal 
friends to begin with. Moreover, he brought the 
welcome intelligence that prisoners were no longer to 
be treated as rebels, the barbarous orders issued at the 
beginning of the war having been cancelled. While 
thus conciliating the Corsicans, he set himself to 
improve the discipline of the somewhat demoralised 
army be found in the country. The armistice 
concluded by Marbeuf he most emphatically con- 
demned, and it became clear that strong measures 
were about to be taken for the reduction of the 
whole island. 

His plan was, briefly, as follows. Starting from 
Bastia, his main army, divided into two columns, each 
of twelve battalions, was to advance towards the centre 
of the island ; one column along the valley of the 
Golo, the other along that in which stands Murato. 
These two corps would naturally meet near Ponte 
Nuovo (now called Ponte Leccia). Eight battalions 
were to proceed down the coast and then turn west- 
ward, up the valley of the Tavignano. These three 
columns thus all threatened Corte ; whilst a fourth, 

* Compare Sismondi, Hist.des Fran^ais, ch. Ivi., and La J^ie et Memoires 
du General Dumourie%, Liv. I., chaps, v, and vi. The Annual Register 
(1769) puts the force at over thirty thousand. Benson, Sketches of Corsica, 
sec. II, makes it nearly forty thousand. These numbers may, from first 
to last, have been sent to the country, but I cannot see how more than 
twenty-five thousand, if as many, could ever have been available at any 
given time. 


under Narbonne, was to march on the same point 
from Ajaccio, over the Col di Vizzavona. A small 
force was to march right down the coast by the plain 
of Aleria to Porto Vecchio ; whilst another, from 
Bonifacio, advanced on Sartene. 

These operations began in May. 

Paoli began by taking up a position at Murato, 
to check the advance of De Vaux, who came in 
touch with him on the 3d, and, after three days' 
skirmishing, forced him southward and compelled 
him to cross the Golo. The Corsican leader then 
fixed his headquarters at Morosaglia (near his birth- 
place), and waited for an opportunity of attacking 
the French in the narrow valley of the Golo. 
GaiFori was detached to occupy the heights of 
Lento, the command of another outpost being con- 
fided to Grimaldi at Canavaggia (or Canagia). 
Paoli doubtless hoped to defeat the French army 
in detail while the two northern columns were still 
separated, but the rapidity of their movements frus- 
trated his plans. Grimaldi involved his general in 
an engagement before he was prepared for it, whilst 
GafFori was surprised at Lento and failed to hold 
that post. Paoli's messages were intercepted by 
the French, and he found his plans wrecked 
by the junction of the two French columns north 
of Ponte Nuovo. Nevertheless, on the 9th, he 
ventured to join issue with De Vaux, although 
his strength was only about fifteen hundred men. 
As the French approached the bridge by which 
they were to cross the Golo, they were suddenly 
attacked, and three battalions driven back, with 
heavy loss. 



The main body came up, and the Corsicans re- 
treated in good order ; but at the bridge they were 
fired into by a corps composed mainly of deserters 
from the Genoese troops. It is uncertain whether 
this was done by accident or not. This corps had 
been posted at the bridge to hold it, and a mistake 
may have occurred in the confusion of the action. 
But the Corsicans believed that there was treachery, 
and this so discouraged and confused them that they 
were completely defeated. In their last stand they 
fought with the determination of despair. The dead 
were piled in front of the living to form a parapet, 
which was increased by the wounded, who dragged 
themselves up to add their bodies to this last rampart 
of freedom. 

Inferior, both in arms and discipline, Corsica had 
held out for nearly a year against a great and war- 
like nation. But this was the end. The battle of 
Ponte Nuovo led to the fall of Corte (21st May), 
Isola Rossa and other important places surrendering 
soon after. Many of the people preferred the friend- 
ship of De Vaux to his enmity, and made terms as 
soon as possible. 

Narbonne endeavoured to cut off Paoli's retreat, 
but was intercepted and, for a time, held back by 
Clement Paoli. The latter then joined his brother 
at Bastelica, together with Serpentini, Abatucci and 
other leaders, who were still ready to continue the 

Soon their small band of a few hundreds was 

surrounded by thousands of the enemy, and Pascal 

Paoli realised that any further resistance could 

only bring frightful calamities upon his country, 



without hope of success. The two brothers, with 
between three and four hundred followers, made 
their way through the French lines and escaped 
to Porto Vecchio, where they embarked in English 
ships and arrived at Leghorn on the i6th of June 

The French loss in the conquest of Corsica was 
very considerable. Over four thousand men were 
killed, including more than five hundred officers ; 
and almost six thousand died from either wounds or 
sickness.* The Corsican losses cannot be computed. 
It is well known that, in the case of irregular troops 
fighting in their own country, no probable estimate 
is possible. 

After the departure of Paoli and his brother, a 
few patriots still held out in the mountains. Carlo 
Saliceti did the French so much damage that a price 
was put on his head. But with no central authority, 
no leader who could command and combine the 
scattered bands, their efforts were unavailing. Much 
suffering was endured, but gradually the nation was 
crushed into submission, and, after a time, had to 
admit that French rule was infinitely better than 
A.D. 1770. On the 15th of September 1770 a general assembly 
was convened at Corte. It was explained to the 
deputies that all offences were pardoned, and that 
henceforth the king would adopt and love the 
Corsicans as his own subjects ; and the deputies, 
on behalf of the nation, swore allegiance tp Louis 
XV. To Marbeuf was confided the control of 

* Annual Register (1769), p. 46. Benson, Sketches of Corsica, sec. 2. 
The number of officers killed seems incredible, unless it includes the 
non-commissioned officers as well as their superiors, 



the king's new subjects, and under his government 
many of the old Corsican institutions were allowed 
to remain in existence, respect for the law was en- 
forced, and an attempt made to restore prosperity to 
the exhausted nation. But many Corsicans refused 
to live under French rule and emigrated, some to 
Tuscany, some to Minorca, some to Sardinia. 

Clement Paoli entered a convent in Tuscany. 
Pascal Paoli retired to England, whither he was 
soon followed by one of the most faithful of his 
friends, a dog of great size, which had been his 
companion for years.* This dog was brought from 
Leghorn in a British ship, and, let us hope, was 
some consolation to the exiled general. 

In England Paoli was treated with great re- a.d. 1770-1815. 
spect, and there he remained for twenty years, 
returning to Corsica in 1790, to be received with 
high honours and granted nominal authority in 
the country where he had formerly been supreme. 
The excesses of the French Revolution disgusted 
him ; the fiiry of the time was foreign to his 
disposition. His country had been declared a de- 
partment of France,t but he could never forget its 
former independence under his leadership. In 1793 
he was summoned before the Committee of Public 
Safety, but refused to attend, and was declared a 
traitor. The Bonapartes, sons of his former secre- 
tary, were now his enemies ; Pozzo di Borgo, the 
lifelong foe of Napoleon, took his side and saved 
him from the ' Terror.' 

* Annual Register, 1769, p. 133. 

f It was incorporated with France in 1789, and became a department 
in 1790, when the departmental system was instituted. 



Then came a British occupation, in 1794, supported 
by Paoli, but his influence was deemed injurious to 
the government, and he was requested (1795) to 
return to England, where he lived until his death, 
in 1807. 

British rule did not please the Corsicans, who 
really wanted self-government, and the island was 
abandoned by England in October 1796, an event 
soon followed by its re-annexation to France. Once 
more, on the fall of Napoleon, British troops were 
seen in the island, but only to restore it to the 
French monarchy. 

All this was a mere episode in the story of the 
great war resulting from the French Revolution ; the 
history of Corsica came to an end with the battle 
of Ponte Nuovo. Since then the island has been 
French territory, but the Corsican nation still 

A Corsican may be an emperor, statesman, 
ambassador, soldier of France or any other 
country, but his nation claims him always, and 
he can neither lose his nationality nor change 

Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Etruscans, 
Romans, Vandals, Moors, Italians, Frenchmen, 
have held the coasts and controlled the trade of 
Corsica, but the nation lives on. Pride, ferocity, 
idleness, bigotry, all these faults have been urged 
against this people, but all these faults may be 
attributed to the centuries of suffering and oppres- 
sion endured in the past. On the other hand, 
their courage, honesty, piety and hospitality are 
surely qualities which must earn our respect and 


sympathy for the Corsicans, who, although indi- 
vidually free under French rule, are still denied that 
self-government of which their past has proved them 



Colston &= Coy. LiTniied, PrinterSf Edinburgh.